The Crime of Poverty?


‘America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?’ There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register. […]

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.’

Vonnegut. K. 1969. Slaughterhouse-Five New York, United States: Random House (2007) p. 128-129

4/i mmxv


North Dakota is the least-visited state in the United States. Curiously, it also has more churches per capita than any other state and the highest percentage of church-going population in the country.

Peer is Dutch for ‘pear’ and ‘light bulb’.

John I of Portugal (1385–1433) defended his kingdom against Castile. In Portugal he is known as John the Good or John the Great; in Spain he is known as John the Bastard.

Jane Austen shared a bedroom with her sister Cassandra her whole life.

Karl Marx viewed prostitutes as victims of the capitalist system. In his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, he described sex work as being “only a specific expression of the general prostitution of the labourer,” and viewed the abolition of prostitution as a necessary part of ending capitalism. Similarly, in The Communist Manifesto, he called prostitution the “complement” of the bourgeois family, and predicted that both institutions would one day vanish.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

American Butter


From the 19th century onwards, particularly powerful US dairy lobbies in states like New Hampshire have demanded that margarine should not be coloured creamy yellow and, in some places, even managed to insist it should be coloured bright red to put people off from buying it and purchase real butter instead. This, to protect local dairy farmers from a decline in demand of their milk.

In fact, by the start of the 20th century, eight out of ten Americans could not buy regular yellow margarine, and those who could had to pay a hefty tax on it. The regulations and taxes had a significant effect: the 1902 restrictions on margarine colour, for example, cut annual US consumption by almost two-thirds.

As iffy as this sounds, it turns out capitalism got it right. Even though a number of shameless profit-obsessed lobbyists were only seeking to protect their businesses in the political arena regardless of effects to public health, animal welfare and conservation of the environment; they were, nevertheless, (albeit accidentally) promoting the healthy alternative: real butter.

“I shouldn’t think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.”
― Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

Not only does butter taste incomparably better, it’s a natural product that human beings have been eating and cooking with for centuries without ­damaging their health. Why swap it for margarine, a highly synthetic and unpleasant-tasting concoction laced with additives and cheap, low-grade oils refined on an industrial scale?

There has been a growing body of scientific research that not only indicates that there is absolutely no reason to stop eating ­butter, but also leads to one inescapable conclusion: that decades of health advice, particularly in regard to heart disease, cholesterol levels and the consumption of fats and oils, have been plain wrong.

The scientific evidence is compelling and totally at odds with decades of official advice that we should all be cutting down on our consumption of animal fats. The exact opposite turns out to be true. People who eat more of the safflower-derived products are almost twice as likely to die from all causes, including heart disease.

And consider this: there is, and never was, any good evidence linking intake of dietary saturated fats with blocked coronary arteries and heart disease.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

For so much of what we were told was gospel truth turns out to be plain wrong. Butter is not bad for you; in fact, it’s healthy, being high in vitamins, saturated fats which are beneficial to the kidneys for instance; it has the sort of cholesterol that is vital for brain and nervous system development and various natural compounds with anti-fungal, anti-oxidant and – therefore – anti-cancer properties.

On The Fundamental Problem With American Political Discourse


“The problem with the discourse situation in America is capitalism. That’s the problem with it because you can make a lot money by being an assassin. A lot of money. Whether you’re right-wing or left-wing, you go in and you’re a hater – radio, cable, in print, whatever, you get paid. And there are people who do that. And they go in – they don’t even believe half the stuff they say – and they just rip it up. And they get paid a lot of money. And that has coarsened everything. They’re phonies. Capitalism drives that. There are Americans who want to hear hate, and they hear it, and that has just blown it all up.”

– Bill O’Reilly

On Fairness Of Economics


“Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilisation of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes — that is, the majority — as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair.”

– Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

On Bourgeois Patriotism


“Bourgeois patriotism, as I view it, is only a very shabby, very narrow, very mercenary, and deeply anti-human passion, having for its object the preservation and maintenance of the power of the national state—that is, the mainstay of all the privileges of the exploiters throughout the nation.”

Mikhail Bakunin