Thursday, July 1, 2010

Deficit Spending, the US naitonal debt, and the value of the US dollar

This rant is brought to you from Korea by Brother Doug. Let's pray there's no war on this peninsula, but by golly, the November G-20 meeting could be a disaster regardless of war, if those in power do as much then as they did in Coppenhagen to tackle global warming. Wow wasn't Toronto a success? He he.

Note the charts at the bottom of this essay, only viewable in the attachment.
They show EXACTLY when the crisis in deficit spending and blossoming natoinal debt occurred.
It's worse now because we spend 24% of the money we borrow to merely pay the *INTEREST* on money we already owe. This problem began in earnest between 1980 and 1988. It is now out
of control, and should not be blamed on anything other than its real two causes: 1) deficit spending in order to keep the economy "growing," and avoid another depression and 2) defense spending.

Even with massive overspending, a recession hit in 1982, remember? Even with draconian cuts to all domestic programs except (note seniors vote) medicaire and Social Security, deficits ensued. And the defense budget soared, pushed partly by unneccesary wars, and defense contractors funding the campaigns of senators, congressmen and Presidents alike. The golden tirangle of graft in Washington is briefly explained thusly: "The Cia developes the threat, the Congress funds defense of the threat, and the Pentagon fights wars in order to 1) keep the profits up for ALL US corporations and 2) defend the "American interests" overseas and 3) use up a lot of equipment and lives in order for more equipment to be ordered. Thus, the elctorate only has even a SAY in one third of the golden triangle. uh Oh. Eisenhower was right!
"Beware of the military economic complex," the general-then-elected Presidnet said, as he LEFT office.

If the IMF were to take the US to task and ask us to impose the type of "austerity" measures it has asked 79 countries to impose to date, we'd be set as far back or further than those countries were when they agreed to take IMF loans.

What I mean is that the US deficit spending, even as a percentage of our HUGE (thankfully) Gross Domestic Product (GPD) is hundreds or thousands of times worse than that of Greece or Portugal or Spain or, in the past, Ghana, Cambodia, Argentina, or so many other countires whose economies were ruined, I mean levelled, by the practices of the IMF, a Washington-based PRIVATE bank that appears to have no other function than to keep the US banking and economy #1 by hammering any and all willing to to business with it.

Yes, the IMF saves US bankers from bad loans they made to third world countries, but what has it done to the workers IN THOSE countries in the process? It has caused things like 70% unemployment in Argentina, followed by US factories moving in, followed by the FTAA, Free trade Agreement of the Americas, so the products made form people willing to work for peanuts, nay one peanut a day, can flow norht untaxxed. This is worht truly ruminating on, as IMF practices are one of the many things foriegners are so upset they grow terrorists over. Remmeber, the IMF is a PRIVATE bank doing business in Washington with no public or non-governmental mandate or benevolent bi-laws.

If we want to get rid of terrorists, shouldn't we look at how and why our practices cause people to be so upset in the first place?

It's one thing the 911 comission never looked into, but perhaps should have.

Agreed, Obama has not done what he said he'd do. In that I mean "Change" in the way Washington "works" has not happened. But I submit that our deficit (read defense) spending and naotinal debt will combine to also ruin the NEXT administration, and it sure won't be JUST Obama's fault, but Clinton's, Bush's, the elder Bush's AND Ronald Reagan's, the originator of massive deficit spending.

Alas, a "FISCAL CONSERVATIVE," as Reagon made himself out to be, was the originator of the demise in the value of the US Dollar, and hence the end of the US empire. Various wars in this century may occur to try to save the empire, but in the end they won't work, as they just cost us MORE money, and exacerbate the fiscal crisis now fully into it 30th year.

You wouldn't blame the unemployment mess on JUST Obama either would you? Lousy management practices at corporations are NEVER the government's fault, yet taxpayers bail out car makers, banks and investment firms while leaving the real estate market poised for its second massive downturn. It isn't called a depression now, but it feels like about 1932 to me, and to the thousands of Americans who once had monster good jobs in the US, who are now teaching English in Korea. What a twist, a brain drain OUT of the US.

Ouch.

Who would want the President's job now? Why, it'd take a dingbat to want that job. Enter Sarah Palin. he he.

I pray she wins the Republican Nomination. Then, if she wins election, I'm sure her superior intelligence and common sense will be able to undo the messes created in the last 30 years, not just the last 4.

Or not.

Doug

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Lead – Up to the G-20 Meeting in Seoul: What Happens If U.S. Dollar Loses Reserve Status? · How big a deal is the loss of the dollar’s reserve status?by Eric deCarbonnel
In the last week we have learned that:
1) The Fed is planning 15-fold increase in us monetary base2) A U.N. panel says the world should ditch the dollar3) Zimbabwe has ditched the US dollar in favor of the Rand4) China and Russia are rethinking the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency
With the US monetary base expanding at a breathtaking pace and nations around the world worrying about the value of their US holdings, the dollar looks virtually guaranteed to lose its status as the international reserve currency. This begs the question: how big a deal is the loss of the dollar’s reserve status?
To answer this question, lets first calculate just how large are the dollar holdings of foreign governments. From the CIA’s world Factbook, below is a ranking of countries by reserves of foreign exchange.(amounts in billions)Rank Country Foreign Exchange Reserves:
1 China $1,534
2 Japan $954
3 Russia $476
4 India $275
5 Taiwan $275
6 Korea, South $262
7 Brazil $180
8 Singapore $163
9 Hong Kong $153
10 Germany $136
11 France $116
12 Algeria $111
13 Malaysia $101
14 Italy $94
15 Thailand $87
16 Mexico$87
17 Libya $80
18 United Arab Emirates $77
19 Turkey $77
20 Switzerland $75
21 United States $71 Uh, the US doesn't hold much foreign currency eh?
Total = $6,898

According to Wikipedia, at the end of 2007, 63.90% of the identified official foreign exchange reserves were held in United States dollars. Therefore, total dollar reserves at the beginning of 2008 were about $4,408 billion (63.90% of $6,898 billion). However that is not the end of the story, as we still need to account for stabilization funds or Sovereign Wealth Funds. Wikipedia explains:
Excess reserves
Foreign exchange reserves are important indicators of ability to repay foreign debt and for currency defense, and are used to determine credit ratings of nations, however, other government funds that are counted as liquid assets that can be applied to liabilities in times of crisis include stabilization funds, otherwise known as sovereign wealth funds. If those were included, Norway and Persian Gulf States would rank higher on these lists, and UAE’s $1.3 trillion Abu Dhabi Investment Authority would be second after China. Singapore also has significant government funds including Temasek Holdings and GIC. India is also planning to create its own investment firm from its foreign exchange reserves.
For more, the Market Oracle explains sovereign wealth funds.
Sovereign Wealth FundsJune 30th, 2007
Central banks have traditionally kept their reserves in relatively low-yielding, highly liquid government securities, agency debt, money-market instruments and bank deposits. The most current official IMF figure for official worldwide foreign currency reserves is US$5.89 trillion [Worldwide foreign currency reserves increased by about 1 trillion over 2007]. At US$1.35 trillion, China holds the world’s largest pool of official reserves, followed by Japan with US$911 billion and Russia with US$403 billion.
In addition to these reserves, market estimates for the total value of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) run as high as US$2.5 trillion. This compares to US1.6 trillion for hedge funds. These are state-owned and operated funds, comprising of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, or property not included in the IMF figures. The use of these funds enables large reserve holders to invest in higher yielding instruments.
With around 40 percent of stabilization funds invested in the US, the dollar holdings of sovereign wealth funds are around $1,000 billion (40% of $2,500 billion). After combining the numbers from foreign exchange reserves and stabilization funds, the dollar holdings of foreign governments are about $5,385 billion. Meanwhile, as you might have noticed from the CIA’s ranking above, the United States holdings of foreign currencies is around $71 billion.
Implications of the loss of the dollar’s reserve status
As the dollar loses its reserves status, at least half of the world’s $5,385 billion dollar reserves will be sold off and replaced with other currencies (yuan, euro, khaleeji, gold, rand, etc…). The US, with its $71 foreign reserves, will not be able to do anything to counteract this mass exodus from the dollar. With outflows of this magnitude, the dollar’s value will collapse to a fraction of where it is now.
The process of foreign nations extracting themselves from the dollar is not going to be pretty. The likely impacts are:
1) The dollar’s value will plunge as investors see the writing on the wall and jump ship.
2) US credit markets will collapse. As the dollar fall, a mass exodus from credit market will begin. Investors sitting on toxic securities will sell at fire-sale prices to escape the currency depreciation.
3) The fed’s balance sheet will explode beyond all reason. In response to the mass exodus from credit markets, the fed will buy trillions worth debt in a desperate attempt to hold interest rates down. Unfortunately, the more debt the fed buys, the more quickly the dollar will fall, and the more panicked the credit selloff will become.
4) US interest rates will soar, despite (or because of) the fed’s efforts.
5) Countries around the world will be hurt badly by the dollar’s decline. These countries include:
A) Nations which are heavily dependent on US exports: Japan, Mexico, etc…B) Nations with large dollar reserves: Japan, China, Gulf oil states, etc…C) Nations which receive large amounts of US foreign aid: Israel, Egypt, etc…D) Nations which rely on remittances from citizens working in the US: Mexico, India, etc…E) Nations which use dollars as their official currency: Liberia, Panama, etc…F) Nations which have large amounts of dollars in circulation: Central and South America (especially Argentina), Eastern Europe, etc…
6) Some nations will see benefits from the dollar’s decline. These countries include:
A) Nations with large gold reserves: EU zone, Switzerland, etc…B) Nations which owe dollar denominated debt will see that debt wiped out: Iceland, African nations, etc…C) Nations with stable currencies: EU zone, Switzerland, China, etc…
7) World politics will be greatly altered. There will be considerable anger at the US from nations hurt by the dollar’s fall. The US will lose influence in Asia (mainly China).
US retailers will get crushed. As the dollar falls, the cost of imports for retailers will increase, but the American consumer will be unable to afford these higher prices. Competition between desperate retailers will force them the sell inventory at below cost, creating massive losses. Retailers most heavily dependent on imports (ie: Wal-Mart) will be the first to go under. Eventually as more and more retailers go bankrupt, the few survivors will be able to raise prices enough to cover costs, and the sector will stabilize at a fraction of its current size.
9) American lifestyles will change radically. The end of cheap oil, low interest rates, and deficit spending will mean a lower quality of life and higher taxes.
10) The price of gold and other precious metals will explode.
11) The US will experience hyperinflation.
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The main problem with the US dollar started between 1980 and 1988 Under Ronald Reagan:
Reagan administration
Main articles: Presidency of Ronald Reagan, Domestic policy of the Reagan administration, and Foreign policy of the Reagan administration
Reagan's approach to the presidency was somewhat of a departure from his predecessors; he delegated a great deal of work to his subordinates, letting them handle most of the government's day-to-day affairs. As an executive, Reagan framed broad themes and made a strong personal connection to voters. Unlike fellow Republican Richard Nixon, Reagan was not nearly as concerned with the day-to-day details of executive governance, which he delegated among subordinates.
On March 30, 1981, Reagan was shot in Washington DC by a disturbed young man named John Hinckley. The president was rushed to a hospital and recovered after a few weeks, with Vice President Bush managing the administration in his absence. Hinckley was ultimately ruled to be insane and was placed in a mental institution rather than prison.
Reaganomics and the 1981 federal budget
See also: Reaganomics
Ronald Reagan promised an economic revival that would affect all sectors of the population. He proposed to achieve this goal by cutting taxes and reducing the size and scope of federal programs. Critics of his plan charged that the tax cuts would reduce revenues, leading to large federal deficits, which would lead in turn to higher interest rates, stifling any economic benefits. Reagan and his supporters, drawing on the theories of supply-side economics, claimed that the tax cuts would increase revenues through economic growth, allowing the federal government to balance its budget for the first time since 1969.
Reagan's 1981 economic legislation, however, was a mixture of rival programs to satisfy of all his conservative constituencies (monetarists, cold warriors, middle-class swing voters, and the affluent). Monetarists were placated by tight controls of the money supply; cold warriors, especially neoconservatives like Kirkpatrick, won large increases in the defense budget; wealthy taxpayers won sweeping three-year tax rate reductions on both individual (marginal rates would eventually come down to 50% from 70%) and corporate taxes; and the middle class saw that its pensions and entitlements would not be targeted. Reagan declared spending cuts for the Social Security budget, which accounted for almost half of government spending, off limits due to fears over an electoral backlash, but the administration was hard pressed to explain how his program of sweeping tax cuts and large defense spending would not increase the deficit.
Budget Director David Stockman raced to put Reagan's program through Congress within the administration's deadline of forty days. Stockman had no doubt that spending cuts were needed, and slashed expenditures across the board (with the exception of defense expenditures) by some $40 billion; and when figures did not add up, he resorted to the "magic asterisk"--which signified "future savings to be identified." He would later say that the program was rushed through too quickly and not given enough thought. Appeals from constituencies threatened by the loss of social services were ineffectual; the budget cuts passed through the Congress with relative ease.
[edit] The recession of 1982
By early 1982, Reagan's economic program was beset with difficulties as the recession that had begun in 1979 continued. In the short term, the effect of Reaganomics was a soaring budget deficit. Government borrowing, along with the tightening of the money supply, resulted in sky high interest rates (briefly hovering around 20 percent) and a serious recession with 10-percent unemployment in 1982. Some regions of the "Rust Belt" (the industrial Midwest and Northeast) descended into virtual depression conditions as steel mills and other industries closed. Many family farms in the Midwest and elsewhere were ruined by high interest rates and sold off to large agribusinesses. Only inflation was immediately curbed by Reagan's fiscal programs.
Although Reagan would later win reelection in a historic landslide in his 1984 presidential election, his approval ratings plummeted in the worst months of the recession of 1982. Democrats swept the mid-term elections, making up for their losses in the previous election cycle. At the time, critics often accused Reagan of being out of touch, content with telling stories about his movie days, appearance, sound bites, and slogans. For example, by 1982, former Budget Director David Stockman, an ardent fiscal conservative, wrote, "I knew the Reagan Revolution was impossible--it was a metaphor with no anchor in political and economic reality."
Yet, the recession stretched well back into the 1970s, and had its roots in President Johnson's deficit spending and the oil embargoes, well before the Reagan economic program. Moreover, the performance of the U.S. economy under Reagan compared favorably to Margaret Thatcher's Britain, which had been consistent in its application of a monetarist regime (a tight monetary policy and a tight fiscal policy, which resulted in deflation in the midst of depression).
Recovery
Unlike Thatcher, Reagan combined the tight-money regime of the Federal Reserve with an expansionary fiscal policy. Following the recession of 1982, high government spending was one of the factors that contributed to strong growth (4.2 percent per year in the period 1982-1988). With the simultaneous reduction in tax rates, it also drove up the deficit significantly.
Another factor in the recovery from the worst periods of 1982-83 was the radical drop in oil prices due to increased production levels of the mid 1980s, which ended inflationary pressures on fuel prices. The virtual collapse of the OPEC cartel enabled the administration to alter its tight money policies, to the consternation of conservative monetarist economists, who began pressing for a reduction of interest rates and an expansion of the money supply, in effect subordinating concern about inflation (which now seemed under control) to concern about unemployment and declining investment.
By the middle of 1983, unemployment fell from 11 percent in 1982 to 8.2 percent. GDP growth was 3.3 percent, the highest since the mid-1970s. Inflation was below 5 percent.
Deficit spending, the dollar, and trade
Following the economic recovery that began in 1983, the medium-term fiscal effect of Reaganomics was a soaring budget deficit as spending continually exceeded revenue due to tax cuts and increased defense spending. Military budgets rose while tax revenues, despite having increased as compared to the stagnant late 1970s and early 1980s, failed to make up for the spiraling cost.
In his first term, Reagan continued to demand increases to the defense budget of up to 10 percent a year. Congressional committees, meanwhile, investigated charges that the $1 trillion of U.S. military spending in Reagan's first term bought surprisingly little, pointing to alleged Pentagon mismanagement. In the 1980s, for example, nearly 50 of the largest U.S. defense contractors came under investigation for overcharges and other criminal malfeasance.
The 1981 tax cuts, the largest in U.S. history, also eroded the revenue base of the federal government in the short-term. The massive increase in military spending (about $1.6 trillion over five years) far exceeded cuts in social spending, despite wrenching impact of such cuts spending geared toward some of the poorest segments of society. Even so, by the end of 1985, funding for domestic programs had been cut nearly as far as Congress could tolerate.
In this context, the deficit rose from $60 billion in 1980 to a peak of $220 billion in 1986 (well over 5 % of GDP). Over this period, national debt more than doubled from $749 billion to $1,746 billion.
While deficit spending has value as an economic stimulus, and assisted the recovery in the post-1982 Reagan years, the dimension of the budget shortfalls of the 1980s left interest rates high and the dollar over-valued, causing investment and exports to suffer and, consequentially, increasing the U.S. trade deficit.
Since U.S. saving rates were very low (roughly one-third of Japan's,) the deficit was mostly covered by borrowing from abroad, turning the United States within a few years from the world's greatest creditor nation to the world's greatest debtor. Not only was this damaging to America's status, it was also a profound shift in the postwar international financial system, which had relied on the export of U.S. capital. In addition, the media and entertainment industry during the 1980s glamorized the stock market and financial sector (eg. the 1987 movie Wall Street), causing many young people to pursue careers as brokers, investors, or bankers instead of manufacturing and making it unlikely that any of the lost industrial base would be restored any time soon.
The deficits were keeping interest rates, although lower than the 20% peak levels earlier in the administration due to a respite in the administration's tight money policies, high and threatening to push them higher. The government was thus forced to borrow so much money to pay its bills that it was driving up the price of borrowing. Although supply-siders promised increased investment as a result of top-rate and corporate tax cuts, growth and investment suffered for now in the context of high interest rates. In October 1987, a sudden and alarming stock market crash took place, but the Federal Reserve responded by increasing the money supply and averted what could have been another Great Depression.
Perhaps more alarmingly, Reagan-era deficits were keeping the U.S. dollar overvalued. With such a high demand for dollars (due in large measure to government borrowing), the dollar achieved an alarming strength against other major currencies. As the dollar soared in value, so American exports became increasingly uncompetitive, with Japan as the leading beneficiary. The high value of the dollar made it difficult for foreigners to buy American goods and encouraged Americans to buy imports, coming at a high price to the industrial export sector. Steel and other heavy industries declined due to excessive demands by labor unions and outdated technology that made them unable to compete with Japanese steel imports. The consumer electronics industry was one of the worst victims of dumping and other unfair Japanese trade practices. By the end of the decade, it had virtually ceased to exist.
The U.S. balance of trade grew increasingly unfavorable; the trade deficit grew from $20 billion to well over $100 billion. Thus, American industries such as automobiles and steel, faced renewed competition abroad and within the domestic market as well. The auto industry was given breathing space after the Reagan administration imposed voluntary import restraints on Japanese manufacturers (allowing them to sell a maximum of 1.3 million vehicles in the US per year) and imposed a 25% tariff on all imported trucks (a lighter 3% tariff was put on passenger cars). The Japanese responded by opening assembly plants in the US to get around this, and in doing so were able to say that they were providing Americans with jobs. The VIR was repealed in 1985 after auto sales were booming again, but the tariffs remain in effect to this day.
The enormous deficits were in large measure holdovers from Lyndon Johnson's commitment to both "guns and butter" (the Vietnam War and the Great Society) and the growing competition from other G7 nations after their postwar reconstruction, but it was the Reagan administration that chose to let the deficits develop.
While Reagan was in office, charges of an executive "power vacuum" and a low presidential attention span were probably not entirely partisan in nature. Some fiscal conservatives and Democrats criticized Reagan for the extent of deficit spending, often focusing on the lack of oversight of defense expenditures. In January 1985, prominent conservative columnist William Safire, alluding to George H.W. Bush's charges that Reagan was advocating "voodoo economics" in the 1980 race for the GOP nomination, stated in The New York Times Magazine that "Reaganomics is giving voodoo a bad name" and that the "United States has lost control of its financial markets to foreigners."
Reagan appointed three Supreme Court justices during his administration. The first was Sandra Day O'Connor in 1981; a centrist and the first woman on the SC and the second was Antonin Scalia in 1986, a conservative. His third appointment in 1987 was marred by controversy, as the initial choice, Douglas Ginsberg, withdrew his nomination after admitting to marijuana use in college. The next choice, Robert Bork, was pulled after attacks by Senator Ted Kennedy and liberal activists who charged that he wanted to outlaw abortion and throw out civil rights laws. Reagan finally settled on the moderate Anthony Kennedy. Both Kennedy and Scalia remain on the Supreme Court as of 2010; O'Connor retired in 2006.
The National Debt, 1940 - 2009
The debt reached a peak during WWII (More on this later), but the government managed to pay a lot of it off. The amount of debt has increased every year since 1960, and starting in the mid 70's, grew at an astonishing rate.



Per-Capita Debt, 1950 - Present
Population growth was pretty steady. We had 152,271,417 people in 1950, and we have 294,676,169 today. The per-capita debt, then, not surprisingly looks pretty much like the other chart. Whenever the debt levels out, there should be a sleight downward pull as the population increase and the debt level stays the same.
Annual New Debt, 1941 - Present
This was a pretty simple calculation (this year - last year) . It shows how much new debt is created each year. This isn't the same as deficit (income - expenses), but the two numbers are closely related. This number gets added to the debt each year.
Annual New Debt, 1980 - Present
Now this paints an interesting picture. Just look at the peak spending under Bush Sr. 431,989,899,919.78, and the least spending under Clinton, 17,907,308,271.43. That's 4%, or a 1 to 24 ratio.
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The national Debt, which cannot be seen by my copied-in charts, has risen from $1 to $3 Trillion from 1980 to 1988, and form $3 Trillino to nealry $12 Trillion by July 2 2010. Gold would be $4000 an ounce by now if the IUMF were not selling every precious ounce they have to keep the US dollar form being an also-ran in the derby of value, or, if you will, winning "going away" in the race to see which currency will be buried first by those crafty Chinese investors. Instead of buying gold, which would end the dollar's run, they are buying GOLD MINES. Smart eh?
Doug

2010 May Art by Doug

2010 April Art Doug at "GS" Gwangju Studio, Gwangju South Korea

2010 July Doug's June Art

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

May 15 2008

Professor Stuber’s pick-up crew is out again on Thursday, by
Example, imploring students to stop dropping trash wherever
They sit. Now two more professors drop by to lend a hand,
Yet all you can think about is how spring goes by on Misty
Morning Way, where your father, proudly walking toward
Eighty, marks another year on the back of his bedpost. Not
The front, as that would ruin the d├ęcor. Is there any way
To reach back to capture and relive the train ride loud with a
Dixieland band, or converted, topless fire engine adventures?
Professor Stuber likes his new gig. It’s not screaming co-ed
College groupies loving your last set of music, or fellow
Poets applauding your latest rant, or even an art critic firmly
Lauding your ability to remain an expressionist against
All common sense. No, now it’s wide-eyed or hung-over
Students learning way more than English in what amounts
To a cross-cultured anthropology class, with English laid
In over the top. If your father could experience how happy
You are, could he, even after all he has been through, be
Happy enough to recapture the spark of youth? I hope so.

Cramp Transference

She’s transferred out of here due to cramps? No, that
can’t be it. But what on earth is this cryptic note getting
at? I’m humored, she’s humored, we both know I’ll
be around even if Jin Hee cramp transferred out. Now
the mind wanders to the possibility that she ended up
at Humun, the Chonnam back gate. If so, that’d be a
hoot, as its even more in my neighborhood. Oh, she’d
shit a Twinkie to see me walk in, for sure. Tomorrow
is parents day, meaning 5000 Won flower baskets line
the last ten meters from Shinay to the bus station. I
was told to buy some for Kwang Suk’s parents, but had
thought that Park herself is a Mom, and maybe I could
sneak them to Hyuntay and have him give some to her
as well. Would this amount to a cramp transference
too? Is that shaky, wiggling rear in Adidas pants also
a cramp transference? And how about when the crampy
blood transfers onto pad or tampon, or when New Jersey’s
own “The Cramps” cranking their version of Halloween
heavy onto the heads of appreciative ticket holders, with
neighborhood curio cabinets rattling. Does that count?

Weehiya!

Light blue heels, not spikes, but wide-heeled, butt-shaping
sandals stroll below a woman with Kyung Jung’s hairdo.
Where is Kyung Jung now? In Paris, Alex, Raleigh, Schnurr?
This family, three daughters within six years, could be my
brother, eight years ago, both parents tired, looking everywhere
but at each other. Today’s sadness is short, vivid, bubbling
up from a bad day with a caddy, bad memories, bad timing,
and this book, slap-dash, not acceptable, not funny, digging in to
marriage, spirituality, pulling 100-hour weeks to try to exist in a
place that will not accept me no matter where I stand. Counterweight
comes when young ladies model, wise ladies tease, short lady put
hair up into pigtails to play youngster, attempting to “cute” her way
into a grade. Later you find out her English is shaky, analysis flawed
logic unavailable, proclaiming herself prettiest, but nowhere near it.
Unabashed freshman exudes the youth-dominated sexual revolution
that openly threatens centuries of Confucianism. Her parents may have
broken the rules themselves, but, as a tiny closet minority. Plastered pink-
shirted princesses vomit, get pulled to taxis crying for their lives, amazed
about alcohol poisoning, blowing off Monday, still bent by Friday. Here
the gents don’t take advantage of this, still pure, or too drunk themselves.

Weehiyah!

Twenty Lines to Freedom

One listens for hours, patiently waiting her turn, before heading
to Sucheon to play outside with her Dad. Another busses home
to make or eat fried or boiled kimchee-fish soup; then there’s Su,
hopping, joyous, life-changed, spiritual, philosophical, knowing
one day the support needed will return; already this or that angel
has stopped at her doorstep, sometimes talking, sometimes smiling,
she knows the best will come. Silver bicycle, oversized pink trunk
and the smell of fresh-baked-goods mingle here. Brick walkways
lead lookers, lovers, lost souls past each other, and Ding Yun, the
one who, twenty three messages later, sticks with it, though with
lowered expectations, not ever giving in to today, always focused
on a better tomorrow. One will fiddle for Hyuntay, another only
wants life abroad, her boyfriend could not meet family expectations,
yet her mother nods in a room her father isn’t in. Now the two faces:
one wants a comfy job at the Korean Exchange Bank, the very best,
Wood’s wish, will stop by for modeling time tomorrow, a wonderful
tomorrow, with long-hairs walking by, work-out sweaters bobbing,
museum visitors moving in a slow rhythm reserved for interested
eyes, old legs, young minds, tuned to a complex life available within
a ten minute walk or bus ride from the Chonnam faculty apartments.

Open Eye Affair ("I Like My Religion")

The pattern is a machine knit on standard tuke
just placed down, exposing real blonde hair. Her
deep-blue-green dress allows knees to poke at a
ninety degree angle, like a compass using the table
leg as an arc point of a ray emanating from her
inquisitive eyes, intelligent forehead. A vortex
of cold winter heat initiates contact points that
turn from glances to hair toss-backs. She's the
type too absorbed in study to realize how her
essence can fill a room. For now, knowing how
many men (19-25) take a second look is sufficient.
Her hairy boyfriend sips chamomile, and now she
goes for a reverse fold-over: a hair move where
you raise your elbows as high as possible. "This
coffee is disgusting. It tastes like it's been sitting
at the bottom of an urn for a week, then re-heated."
But that's Fred on the back row. Blondini the Great
is on about the relative merits of a quote read to her
by her boyfriend, from a textbook. She uses "OKay"
logic to argue a finer point, distinguishing style from
subject matter in a post-deconstructionist, strict
feminist-Freudian interpretation , admitting, in the
end, that she doesn't really know how things would
turn out: changing positively, or damaging humanity
irreparably if her logic was to be applied in the real world.

KSP 3

Her hair shines,
face smiles, legs walk to
new rooms. Freedom arrives in
time for festivals.
Spring feels good.

She works hard,
writes her future in
a foreign tongue, delicious
words become the fruit
of passion.

She changes,
confidently strides
to life’s welcoming siren:
an innocent song
sung to her.

The singer,
under sycamore,
is older, brash, excited
by this firm woman.
Love flutters.

Friday, June 4, 2010

For You

For You

Purity class
is not needed for
the most sincere, warm woman
some man will get next.
Tears of joy.

Don’t blame him.
He could not resist
keeping you tied down so long.
He had to have your
spirit’s force.

Your light will
sustain me, not him.
Whoever has the time will
find earth’s angel with
soothing hands.

If not for
you, memory would
die, life would flame out, ashes
swept to a deep corner.
Go now, go.

Hyuntay Talks

Hyuntay talks.
Adults everywhere stop to
listen. Yobo smiles,
someone else
hears.

Her hair and
body change, drawing me to
rediscovered youth.
She relents
once.

Daily burn
gives us two hours to discuss.
Reconnect over
Radio
Songs.

It’s spring, and
The yelling stops, art begins,
Children run. Yobo
ages like
wine.

Welomce Mat

Welcome Mat

Yeon-Seong laughs,
husband finds friends a burden,
son complains,
poetry pines, not
written now.

Another
season passes undone. Teams
pick quick boys.
Forced army time sucks
precious youth.

Plums blossom
as Buddha dreams sycamore
birthday light,
accepting all death
has offered.

Cool girls smoke.
Fetish heals pump frilly shorts.
Gwangju rots
under motel lights.
Home sweet home.

Chilly Day

Chilly Day


Here you are, and here they are: in camouflage on a weekend
furlough, scoping out the wide variety of female talent. From
rank amateur to well-played skeptic, the ladies walk by until the
rest of the local unit falls in to form a posse of seven. Is it a
typical Sinae*-day? No. The coffee/pastry shop, usually packed
on Saturday is down to two of us. No one, I mean none of the shop
walkers buys anything. Today’s parade is bagless, an early sign,
like snow-poking crocus, of a springtime of heartbreak. Human
desire keeps us on the same course, even if stripped of buying.
We want to mingle, so here come the expats, some lonely, others
paired up. Another sleepless year is a sure bet. Productivity only
matters if you are producing food. Bunned hair atop mega-hottie
stands, pink rose in hand, waiting a while then moving west,
searching for the idiot who caused her boredom. The brown dog
held by the crazy man, gets away, pees on the astro-turf carpet,
enrages the shop manager, is swept up and flees with its homeless
master. Twitching, greasy-haired, dark-skinned landmark is on the
run again. Maybe he finds a warm place to sleep. Someone did up
his hair in corn rows so it doesn’t get straggly. Walkers veer away,
he’s seen it for years. They could learn survival from him, but don’t.


*Sinae- Korean for downtown

100

Gwangju News Turns 100

Neruda flinched when asked about the color of his shoes,
Which were not shined nor foretold, in rhyme, of the Gwangju News.
T-50s circle, sonic booms, while motel neon flickers.
Old men and women pull their carts to the dump to dicker
About four or five thousand won, their pay for daily gathering,
Barbers beneath spinning poles, to shave, the men are lathering.
Here’s to 100 months of successive news reporting,
All the topics fit to print, Simon’s photos exhorting,
And Leroy’s comics, Allen’s life and others on display:
Things to do in the minutes each week reserved for play.
The heat is back upon us, we matter to our schools,
If not for us whose face could the hakwons use?
On banners as large as the river is wide where the tigers play ball.
It’s all covered by volunteers who give the News their all.
We welcome the new, “farewell” the old on pages of hard-hitting stuff.
No one would dare accuse this magazine of just printing fluff.
So here’s to 2Ys, Minsu, Singsing, Julian, Harsha, Mali, Jessica, Doug
And Jon, Maria, Debra, Nana and Dr. Shin who allows us to lug
Our stories from web-filled brains to be put on glossy pages
Of recycled paper, thanks to Andrew. A toast to a room full of sages!

Carpe Nostrum

Carpe Nostrum (Seize the Night)


The stain of nitrous on the streets
Is matched by the stench of coal.
Entertainment between the sheets
Flew on the wind (it shows).

Young hotties with their strollered kids
Shuffle from store to store.
Be happy for all the fun you did
So much you wound up sore.

Because as wrinkles turn to gray
And memories surpass the present
The fun you have tonight, today
Will make arthritis pleasant.

And wash away your lack of cash
And brighten ancient clothes,
And make you laugh out loud at last
When tubes run out your nose.

So if you’re past the middle-point
Prematurely retired,
Do not give up your haunted joints
Get out, re-light the fire!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Single Currency Theory

Single Currency Theory


The racial flow, still imperfect, puts most on edge here
in L.A. Jews and Gentiles huddle in "richville," but
Bloomingdales and Macy's crowd with a four-way mix
of Koreans, rap stars, Spanish speakers and stressed out
white folks who either don't have the nerve to be kind
to strangers, or shop the big tickets, knowing collapse is
on trade-day away (but which day?). The economic divide
could collide if rich turn poor, grocery trucks hijacked
and guns replace compassion in the latter-day depression.
So sing while you can, scare viewers into the tip jar of
street performers who remind you that by break-dancing
they are not robbing your home. Come crash time the wine
sippers will hustle dollars too, but how? Food delivery is
my guess. Safe, clean food delivered to your gated palace
in a time when even growing food may require armed guards
should be a valuable service for those with money to spare.
If there were only a benevolent group that could be trusted to
switch us to a one-currency world with one minimum wage,
say twelve bucks and hour, and a Chavez style reprioritization
of both crops and housing. If implemented, this might prevent
the crash of 2015. Gulls dance on garbage heaps. Open lots
in East Los Angeles harbor rats and desperados, scream a
warning no one hears. Look, there's a rotting book: "Canary
Row," now sporting touristas unprepared for upcoming disaster.

Zoomanity

Zoomanity


Specks of cherry blossoms remain, six months after, crunched
to microscopic, yet able to detect the soft November feet of
knee-booted beauties. Washington's engorged monument is
Korean, six inches, but proud, laying-in to boot-skirt on the mall.
Blushing blossoms accept the thumping as better than souls,
more aesthetic than the spiked dens that welcome the kinky
Dupont Circle crowd, you know, congressmen on the town with
their page boys. We're now "all -in," bushwhacked into this
winner-take-all culture with few winners, proud sinners, all-meat
dinners. Unshaved Hispanics growl when the dealer hits two
black jacks in a row. Cactus stand, not waving in the wind that
tumbles weeds over mountains, that then ignite to torch homes
of the "richies" who once had it made. Malibu, New Orleans,
Florida in general: is there a pattern here? Gaia, perhaps our
only god, has good aim, giving the haves ample opportunity to
atone: few do. Perpetual human error peaks again now, as
Christians preach morality, their U.S. leader tortures, slaughters,
greedily spilling blood for oil, trading tomorrow for carbon-filled
today, while children and nincompoops watch, jaws agape, because
they didn't see it coming. By nineteen-eighty-three it was evident,
but still, twenty years into the fall, the one-two combo of religious
propaganda and twisted "news" helped smooth over electoral fraud
in time to put the slow crank on World War Three. Skip forward
to November, back-peddle to the leaf pile, where larger color
combinations lure Alexis and her playmate into unbridled bare-
backed adventures. Cool air slows his sweat, but not before a drop
jumps his nose. She thrusts to lick it out of the air, which is just
the angle adjustment he needs to finish the act. Show this to the
wonks, well-walled on cubicle row sixty-seven, and BASHA! your
job is over. It's that easy to escape the grind, but near impossible
to be your own cowboy and feed the kids. This is when corporate
can be your friend: just throw out all convictions, trade values
for value-added do-dads that increase profits and productivity
simultaneously and do not stress the details. No one minds if you
are loading atomic weapons, making attack ads, fucking your
"niece," as long as the leaves rustle gently, lips quiver repeatedly,
and voyeur neighbors get a hot glance, on an Indian Summers' eve.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Play one and two

Play (1974, age 15)

Brandy barks at swooping swallows,
Life, lowered to one foot or so
In summer time is simple,
As the lure of tired dogs and clover
Greets only those who need to play.

Scampering down outside stairs
Past the skidding bicycle marks
To a tumbling fit of joy
Goes the only daily memory
Of a happiness once known.

Landing in a pile of limbs,
Which includes the golden hair
That shines of wetness on the
Back of Brandy, the player
Laughs at the summer sun.

How long will it be
Before the play begins again,
Before the youthful joy
Once known appears, before
The love, if ever, returns?


><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><


Play II, Thirty Five Years Later (2009, Age 50)

There’s this shadow made by Korean Pines that hits
the white wall of building two at one every day.
If you’re sitting upstairs at An Die Musik, lazily
waiting for your favorite lunch-mate, this shadow can
appear to be the cliff seen in ancient watercolors. A
dark cliff and foggy white air in a far-distant place.
Foreground cloud-clipped conifers add a touch of reality,
nudging you back to lunch, which arrives, unlike your partner.
Today it’s the newfound cliff, visible only from three
southeast-facing seats. Students move, shoes push grains
into jagged cracks, yellow buds enlarge, the sun warms
frosted souls, but it’s the shadow cliff that matters. Now
you have a new friend, silent but hopeful, strong yet fake,
everlasting but ever-changing, finally receding with the sun
to a place no one knows. A morose quartet, early romantic,
pops at least one bright piano note, while cello, violin, viola
continue their lament. A new banner is stretched between
trees. The perpetrators are efficient and mingle into passersby
in less than thirty seconds. Now the cliff cascades, trios walk
and talk, you dream of love alone, confident it will return.

Ode to Horace Mann

Ode to Horace Mann

Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann



Be aware that energy is life, save some for your kids.
Be afraid that our minds are bent by news not books.
Be awed by the healing power of the simple purple cone flower.
Be amazed that after four short years she knows so much.
Be awake before the bombs drop, before the money rules.
Be agile: live in a town that walks and bikes to work and play.
Be amused by ants and birds, goats and potato fields, lilacs and sycamores.
Be angry only long enough to solve the problem, then move on.
Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Post #4

Paradise Lost


Four sea lions scream on top of a
spire rock jutting off La Jolla Beach.
Square footage on top is less than that
of the yelpers, but physics gets weirder
as you realize that the rock is over twenty
feet above sea level. Even if this is a
record low, high tide would leave a solid
fifteen feet to ascend. So humans gather
and marvel, seaweed swaying, as breakers push.
Surfers ride four footers left or right. Hang
gliders, golfers and Eucalyptus mingle in
weather so perfect, even in winter, the only
hard question is “shorts or no shorts?” Compare
to Haiti, or Africa, or Nicaragua. As we lurch
toward uninhabitability should we pray or play?
If banning red meat, automobiles and coal means
saving life on earth, what are we waiting for?
These solutions are easier to determine than
how the Sea Lions learned rock climbing, yet,
since money rules, none will be forthcoming.

Post 3

Tiger Woods
(The Valentine Poem that Could have been)


You bring a light that shines so bright
I have to wear sunglasses

You hold me close and make life right
it's like taking ten love classes

And isn't love a silly word
unless you're the one in it?

Our time is short, so it is absurd
to waste a single minute

Most turn to flowers others gifts
because they don't know how to rhyme

Just your luck, your man can shift
from golf to poetry any time

Our secret life shall exist
no matter where we are

Because a love this strong persists
even from afar

We may not be hand-in-hand
walking down the street

But isn't life just as grand
when lovers are discreet?

Post #2

We’ve woven a web, you and I,
attached to the world, for no matter
how long, inscribed, though poorly, for
scant eyes, still, as bright a love aura as
has ever glowed, tightly wound around
our hearts, yet soaring miles above
Moodung’s fog to warm cold February.
Sparks fly off a round-rock fire rarely seen
in these parts. We laugh, it feels like we
shouldn’t be here on a cold winter night,
just a few meters from trails so packed
during the day. This charge will never
leave. We’ve marked this space but must
go to where the stars shine, deer run, art springs.
Keep my heart in your brain, words in your hair.
Matched lifelong yearning bursts in my hand,
fluorescent. Quick, pack what you need, let’s
flee! live life in the positive zone, expand
what we enjoy together, bound by the luck
that brought us this far. Where to next?
2

Poem Day One





This blog started May 28, 2010 and wil have one poem, painting or editorial every day from now on. It will contain typos every now and then, but you can figure them out, I promise. I will start with a recent poem, and then try to keep the quality of poems up until I finally start heading down below the level of any of the eight books I've published so far. By then, perhaps new poems worthy of your time wil be here. The blog will be sprinkled with art work and editorials to keep the readership up.


This poem was written after a sad incident at __________ university, here in ____________ Korea, to a woman named _______________. Yes she did kill herself. yes the poem is "true."


Unnamed University, Unnamed City, Unnamed Woman


She lies back, angel wings spread, feet flat, but
arched back allowing head to inhabit old-school gas
oven. Mouth open, nostrils flared, deep inhale is more
than photo-op, it’s real, she’s forever shamed her family
by laying drunk as 18 fellow classmen raped her. Every
person in this town knows what happened, but she is the
one who must take her life to balance family sadness, apply
guilt to those who just avoided jail time conventionally.
Here, where rules so outdated they make the Catholics
look hip, her family will not pursue the raging animals
who committed this atrocity, instead they’ll be consoled
by funeral guests, and their money. According to the
Confucian beliefs (held more dear in Korea than China
these days by a long shot) it would be harder for her
family to go on if she was alive to tell the story.
You don’t have to cry about this, many already have.
These “men” walk free to start university life, having
completed “Membership Training,” the custom in which
families pay extra for weekend retreats and the school
sanctions and organizes: alcohol, food, pajamas, rape?