Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Human interactions throw me

Posted in "North Carolina", NC, Religion by helenofmarlowe on June 2, 2021

I noticed, as I drove into the muddy parking lot, a gray-bearded man on a motorbike, blocking my way.  But I was in no hurry. I had two hours free.

And so I sat patiently, confident he would notice me soon and move over.  And he did.

I parked and wended my way over mudpuddles and into the NC Botanical Gardens of Chapel Hill.

While standing at the entrance, looking at the familiar table of cut stems in bottles identifying What’s Blooming,  I heard a voice behind me asking,  Do you know what this is?

A man with approximately half a century’s experience on this earth, with longish gray beard, longish gray hair, wearing a cap with earmuffs, held out a stem of white wildflowers.  No, I told him,  I don’t.  I recognized the man I’d seen on the motorbike.

It’s the most common plant around here, he said. You must know!

Seeing none, other than the stem in his hand, I was tempted to ask whether he is quite sure it’s the most common plant around here, but instead I asked whether it might be a kind of aster.

You don’t know? he said. You don’t see! That’s the problem, you don’t see!

Yes, I agreed, we often don’t see what’s around us.

No, he said, you, you don’t see!   I see it everywhere.  It’s the most common plant here in the area, and you haven’t even seen it!

I looked around.  Is it here, in the garden?

He didn’t know, and asked me had I been here before. Yes, I told him,  I come here every year.

Then you should know whether it’s here or not.  Does this botanical garden have trees? he asked.

Stifling the impulse to give the obvious answer (look around) I said that I guess the garden has native trees in it.

What’s that ring, the ring around your neck? he asked.

Oh — it’s something that works rather like a sun dial. It tells the time, but only, I think, if the sun is shining.

How does it work?

I’ll have to remember … See these markings? You turn this dial, line it up with the month and the day and … let’s see … and the sun …

You don’t use it to tell time? he asked.


How long have you been wearing this?

Well, an hour, today, but I’ve had it several years.

And you haven’t learned how to use it yet?

I did know — I have to remember …

Do you have memory problems?

Well, I have to look at it again — I’ll remember …

You won’t.  You’re hopeless.  Here put it over my head — I’ll take better care of it than you will.

No.  No –It was a timepiece, my son gave me this, you can tell the time of day … someone, I forget, historically, it’s a replica of …

Do you have memory problems? Copernicus?

No, I said, not that long ago. It’s a replica of a timepiece used by …


I’m trying to remember —

You won’t remember. You’re hopeless. You don’t even see the flowers around you.

It was Eleanor Of Aquitaine — she gave it to Henry, so they could meet …

Give it to me.


You don’t need that — you don’t even know how to use it.  Slip it over my head …

No, I won’t.  See the building there, you can just see the roof from here — there may be someone in there who can tell you what this flower is.

Do you think they’ll know? he asked. It is THE most common plant in this area.  And it’s blooming all over the place. It’s tall, it’s more than six feet tall, and it’s blooming, and you don’t see it!

Are you walking this way? Let’s go and see if someone in there can identify it.

Wait, he said. I want to see these on the table — maybe it’s here.

ok — I’ll walk ahead.

And then I walked on, as he examined the bottled stems. I walked toward the areas most likely to have people, but it was a chilly, misty, breezy day, and few visitors were about.

A few minutes later, I looked toward the building I had directed him to, and I saw him carrying his white wildflower through the open archway.

I turned and walked out the entrance, never actually getting into the gardens. I walked back to my car, wondering what I will do for the next two hours.

I turned north onto NC 501. A shopping center ahead. I pulled into Southern Seasons, parked, walked inside, picked up a shopping cart and walked aimlessly through the aisles. I looked at all the bright shiny teapots, the cutlery and coffee pots, candles, candy, cork screws and cheese boards, and realized — remembered? — that there is nothing here that I want.

Human interactions throw me.

As I drove back to the hotel, I began to have thoughts — hopes? — that maybe I’d see him again. And maybe, with a second chance, maybe I’d get it right next time.



Senate Enablers

Posted in "North Carolina", Government, Government Politics, NC, Politics, Trump, Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on January 27, 2020

(My Letter to Editor published in Winston-Salem Journal. Foxx, Burr,and Tillis are, alas our NC representatives.)

It seems that every elected Republican in America is afraid of the bully in the White House. This will be their legacy.

I have a question for Representative Foxx, Senator Burr, and Senator Tillis.
If our next Democratic president — and there will be one, if this Republic stands — is impeached, will you defend the act of withholding crucial documents that Congress has a right to review?
Will you defend the next Democratic president if duly served subpoenoes are ignored and witnesses are ordered not to testify?
Will you defend the next Democratic president’s presumed right to follow this president’s lead in ignoring the immoluments clause of the constitution while possibly enriching — how can we know? — the White House family?
Mr. Trump promised that he would reveal his tax returns. He has not.
He promised he would put his assets into a blind trust. He has not.
He has called on his supporters to find out the name of the whistleblower, even though whistleblowers are protected by Federal law, and the whistleblower’s revelations have all been corroborated.
Many of Mr. Trump’s abuses of his office have been to the advantage of Russia.
Is this the legacy you want?
I voted against Mr. Trump, as did the majority of American voters. And I fear that we are witnessing the crumbling of the United States of America under the leadership of an
authoritarian would-be dictator, just as we are witnessing the crumbling integrity our own NC representatives who tremble in fear of Mr. Trump’s tweets.
I suggest that Mr. Trump’s supporters change their hats to read MRGA – Make Russia Great Again.

Democracy in North Carolina

Posted in "North Carolina", Government, NC by helenofmarlowe on December 26, 2016

Why did NC bother to hold an election?

We, the people of NC, voted for Roy Cooper, a Democrat, to be our next Governor.
In response, our legislators called emergency session and hurriedly, without
public discussion, passed bills that undermine the will of the voters.
The people voted for a Democrat to replace a Republican on the NC Supreme Court,
so the legislation will require constitutional challenges, now, to go to the
Republican majority Court of Appeals before a case can be heard by the NC Supreme court, where our votes created a Democratic majority. The legislators stripped our new governor of the power to appoint a majority to the state Board of Elections.
They stripped the governor of his ability to name members of the boards of state universities. They reduced the number of state employees the governor can appoint from 1,500, under McCrory, to 425 for Governor Cooper, and they will require Cooper’s appointments to agencies to be approved by legislators.
A Democrat won the office of Governor, so the Republican legislators will stop him, to the extent possible, from being able to perform the duties of the office he was elected to.
Andrew Reynolds, a Professor of Political Science at the UNC Chapel Hill and an expert on democracy and democratic systems, says that NC can no longer be considered a democracy.
This institutional brinksmanship in NC is being discussed on national news, the entire nation is looking at how we are losing our democracy in NC, and we must, in all seriousness, ask whether our elections matter and whether we want our democratic rule of law to continue to be eroded.

Major Moral Issue

Posted in "North Carolina", Environment, NC, Planet Care by helenofmarlowe on July 2, 2015

Wrong on many levels

Our local newspaper has recently published articles about industrial chicken farms around Pilot Mountain. These chicken farms are wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to focus on just one.

The Journal stories focus mainly on the financial cost to the nearby homeowners. Families who have lived there for decades, putting their life savings into their property, now have their homes made almost unlivable by “the unbearable stench of death,” putting them into the bind of being unable to enjoy their land and unable to sell it. Surely our legislators can protect taxpaying citizens from what amounts to a take-over of their property by industrial
chicken farms that pollute the land, air and water and destroy the value of area properties.

Even more important, I think, than the injustice done to these individuals is the damage to our children and grandchildren who will have to deal with the environmental devastation caused by CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations). Since animal farms are the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, this is an issue we should all care about. Pollution from chicken farms kills fish and other wildlife and makes people sick.

And this does not even take into account the suffering of these sentient creatures who live their entire lives locked in cages so small they cannot spread their wings.

I believe history will show that the way humans treat other animals is the major moral issue of our times.

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Is there no limit to the meanness of NC legislators?

Posted in "North Carolina", Government, NC by helenofmarlowe on June 19, 2012

I’d go along with some limits on the kinds of TV inmates could see.   I’d go along with allowing only PBS or only The History Channel, or The Nature Channel, or BBC.   There is much evidence, after all, that movies and video games affect our behavior. If there were a Jane Austen channel, I’d go along with a bill to let them watch only that (dreaming here).  But this?


A divided House committee agreed Wednesday to prohibit North Carolina death-row prisoners from watching television despite the warning by Central Prison’s warden that removing TVs could increase violence among the condemned inmates. (The Associated Press, June 6, 2012 )

I’d like to suggest that our legislators read Ernest Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying.   Read Gaines’s lesson in how a condemned prisoner should be treated.  Do our legislators know or care that the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world? Are Americans really more evil than citizens of any other country, or is there some other reason – such as profits for the private prison industry – that the US fills its prisons with (mostly black) non-violent unfortunates? 730 per 100,000 citizens.  More than Russia or El Salvador or Rwanda. Our 730 per 100,000 compares to 333 in Iran, 310 in South Africa, 160 in Saudi Arabia, 129 per 100,000 in Australia, 30 per 100,00 in India. Are people in America 24 times more dangerous than people in India?

After our legislators read A Lesson Before Dying, they might start on The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The facts about mass incarceration in America are hard to take, but really should be a part or our national conversation.

In The New Jim Crow, we learn, if we didn’t already know, that a life sentence for a first-time drug offense is unheard of in the rest of the developed world.    “Remarkably, in the US, a life sentence is deemed perfectly appropriate for a first-time drug offender.” (page 89)  Mandatory life sentences are used in the US for non-violent offenders for crimes other countries consider to be minor.    “In fact, fifty years to life was the actual sentence given to Leandro Andrade, whose sentence for stealing videotapes was upheld by the supreme court.” (p. 90).

When I read a book like this, and then hear people say they’re proud to be Americans, I want to respond, Then you’re not paying attention.

The Last Straw – or The Last Macaroon

Posted in "North Carolina", NC, Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on March 27, 2012

A few weeks ago, my husband went for his morning walk, and came back home with a real live  Flannery O’Conner character.

Bob has a route that he takes, total round trip almost 3 miles. About a mile or so from our house is an apartment complex, but he doesn’t walk past it.  No particular reason, just that he stays on the main sidewalks.

So I’m out in the front yard pulling weeds. Bare hands. You might think that part about my bare hands is an insignificant distraction, but just wait –-

OK, I see my husband walking down the street, heading back home, and wonder about the red-headed boy walking beside him. He gets to the yard, says, Helen, this is Dillon.  Dillon lives in the apartments over on Del Monte.

Turns out Dillon had an opportunity to make $30 by mowing a neighbor’s yard – not a neighbor we know, one several blocks away. Bob said Dillon needed to borrow our lawnmower in order to mow a yard …

Next thing I know,  this stranger –well, Bob has known him 10 minutes– this stranger  is walking up the street pushing our lawnmower. A couple of hours later he brings it back, says thank you, and walks off into the sunset.

A few days later, I’m home alone and Dillon rings the doorbell. He really needs money, he’ll do anything, we must surely have some work for him. He suggested he could clean the gutters, and I asked how much he would charge. He said $25. I thought of my husband having to do that, thought that really, it probably is  a big job, and Dillon said the gutters look like they need cleaning…  so I said ok.  It took him 15 minutes! I gave him the $25, because a deal is a deal, but realized I should have asked him first how long it will take.

I make a mental note that I hope we don’t see this kid again, but I know there’s not much chance. So far we’ve lent him our lawnmower and paid him for a chore at the rate of $100/hour. He’ll be back.

A few days later, Bob and I are sitting on the front porch eating our black bean veggieburgers and sliced avocados, and Dillon walks up the steps, sits in a third rocking chair without being invited, and tells us he needs $45. Needs bus fare to visit his grandmother in Virginia. It’s about 3 pm, and that’s not an insignificant detail either.

We don’t need any work done. Jeff has helped me with heavy yard work for years, and Doug mows the grass. But seeing that he’s not likely to leave happily, I ask him how much he charges per hour. He says, Whatever you want to pay. I said, Last time you were here I paid you $25 for fifteen minutes. He says, Oh, yeah, sorry about that. And he says he’ll work for $20 an hour. Except that really, I don’t see anything that I want him to do. And if he needs $45, that’s more than than two hours worth of work that he’s asking for and we don’t need anything done.

Well, we’re not heartless, so next thing I know, I’m handing him a bow saw and showing him some wayward limbs. He (sort of) finishes that in ten minutes, and then asks if I’d bring him a glass of water. I go in to get the water, and then show him where I’ve been weeding, pulling weeds, tossing them into a bucket, and carrying them out to the compost pile. He can help me with that, although I’d rather be finishing my black bean veggieburger and then working on my own plans that I had for the day.

Dillon says he really would rather not do weeding, if that’s ok, because he has no gloves and he’s afraid of spiders, and besides he’s needing to get to the bus station by 4:30. And by the way, would I mind going in to my computer and ordering his ticket for him? This is getting to be a bit unsettling, but next thing I know I’m out telling him that I went to the website and didn’t see any place to reserve a ticket without a credit card, and besides, he is supposed to work for two hours and he came here at 3 pm and he expects to be on a bus at 4:30? And he still has to walk home? He says maybe we could take him home, but he still has to pack, but that won’t take long. He has no way to get home, and he won’t get there in time to pack if he has to walk. I asked him how he plans to get to the bus station, and he said, Do you think you could drive me?

I’m totally out of my league here. It seems I’ve agreed to pay him $45 to work for two hours between 3:00 and 4:00 pm (but not weed because he’s afraid of spiders) and then take him to the bus station, after I reserve a ticket for him. I’m thinking of the things I meant to do today, but nothing on my list is getting done because I’m fetching water and calling the bus station and finding make-work for him to pretend he’s doing. So I go in and tell Bob that really, I don’t want him to do anything else, I just want him to go. I want my day back. Just give him $45 and tell him to go on to Virginia and visit his grandmother. Bob agrees, and we scrounge around the house putting together $45 and I take it out to him and tell him he’d better go or he will miss his bus. I tell him yes, just go on, and at 4:15 Bob will come get him and take him to the bus station. He points out that Bob doesn’t know where he lives (or even who he is), so Bob will have to take him home to find out where he lives. Well, he’s got me there – this is too much for me.

So now Bob has agreed to take him home, wait for him to pack, and drive him to the bus station. As Bob was getting ready to leave, he started putting macaroons into a plastic zip bag. I had made the macaroons the night before.  Bob said we don’t need all these macaroons, and this boy won’t have time to eat …

Spring Cleaning

Posted in "North Carolina", NC, Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on March 19, 2012

Spring is starting early this year, and I’m late with my spring chores. With the tutoring and advice of our friend Susan, I’m cleaning out our three bluebird houses.   This starts with getting over my reluctance to remove the abandoned nest — I kept putting it off for fear that the little wren families might return and find their homes demolished.  Susan assured me that once they have gone, they will not return.

One of our three bluebird houses

With my bent towards anthropomorphizing I objected – what a waste! Why build a new home every year when last year’s is still sitting pretty on a good foundation?   Susan would have none of that, and we moved on to the lessons about a mild soapy solution in a spray bottle.

So far, we’ve had only wrens in our bluebird houses.  I like wrens just fine and don’t want to run them off, but I’m hoping for bluebirds this year.

We have nesting red-tailed hawks in our woods, and I love to watch the crows and hawks in their daily power struggles.  Summer evenings, we hear the lovely flute-like songs of the wood thrush, and the tweeting and singing of the towhees.  Each summer the thrush reminds me of Robert Browning’s 

Home Thoughts, From Abroad

That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!

The fluting song of the wood thrush is, indeed, the musical sound that I look forward to every summer.  The towhee comes in a close second.

Towhee in the redbud tree in the front yard

We have lots of songbirds at our feeders.  So far this spring, it’s mostly chickadees and titmice.  I like to sit on the porch in the rocking chair with my camera and a book.  I scatter safflower seeds along the porch rail.  The birds have become so used to me over the years that they will come quite close.   When the birds come to the rail, I shoot ’em.   They used to be frightened off by the camera, fleeing when I lift it, but they don’t mind the camera any more.  And I never use a flash when shooting birds.  They are accustomed to seeing my husband and me  most evenings, each of us in our own favorite rocker, like Dagwood and Blondie, each with our books and drinks of choice.  The birds  don’t usually come after dark, but here’s a cardinal taking the safflower seeds that I’ve sprinkled along the rails, caught just lifting his wings.

Male cardinal taking safflower seeds from the rail

Being a woman who knows what’s important, Susan hasn’t spent a lot of time grappling with computers.  But she would like to create a blog for her upcoming road trip to the north, as she follows the  spring, and the bird migrations.  She’ll be writing her blog on her ipad.

Since Susan gives me lessons on how to live (though she doesn’t do it on purpose, and unless she reads this she won’t know that she does) I will give her simple lessons on how to make machines obey commands — remembering the important lesson that if your computer isn’t doing what you want it to do, it’s probably doing what you told it to do instead.  The lessons will be simple, because I don’t know very much, but the people who know more than I do are always incredibly generous with their time and knowledge, and it’s good to occasionally be able to give back.

This has been practice.    I have  trouble in wordpress getting pictures to line up as I want them to.  Getting the text to wrap.  Sometimes I’ll put a photo where I want it,  but then as I type, the type pushes the photo down the page.  Anchor, that’s what I want.   I must learn to anchor the photos.  And padding, to get more space around the photos.

I do occasionally figure all this out.  For example,  the blog I wrote last May when we had a pigeon on our roof. I did get several photos to stay put, but, like the photos that drift, the lessons I learn seldom stay put.  So I have to learn over again.  I once thought the Copy a Post tab would allow me to use the same format and just change the words.  She could simply take my Pigeon post, copy it, and change the words and pictures to her own.  Sounds good in theory, but in practice, when I click Copy a Post, it simply opens  a new edit screen.  We’ll work it out, and reading Susan’s blog will be a treat.

I hope this year we will get bluebirds.

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American Theocracy — A Tiresome Re-run

Posted in "North Carolina", Government, Government Politics, Local Government, NC, Politics, Religion by helenofmarlowe on February 21, 2012

Not to be outdone by Forsyth County Commissioners, who spent many thousands of dollars and much county time litigating a losing battle which was finally settled by the U.S. Supreme Court,  Rowan County (NC) County Commissioners have apparently decided to fight the same fight.

SALISBURY, N.C. — Commissioners in one North Carolina county plan to continue offering Christian prayers at public meetings, regardless of a letter from a civil liberties group citing a recent Supreme Court action upholding a federal court’s ban on the practice.

The Salisbury Post reported (http://bit.ly/xtafV5 ) that a huge crowd turned out for the Rowan County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night to offer their support to the elected officials, who say they’ll defy a decision by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down so-called sectarian prayer, or prayer that’s explicitly linked to a particular religion, such as Christianity.

“If they tell county commissioners they can’t pray, soon they’re going to be in my church telling me I can’t pray in the name of Jesus,” said Terry Brown, a county resident who came to the meeting.

The appeals court’s ruling was in the case of the Forsyth County Board of Commissions. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by that board, letting the Fourth Circuit’s ruling stand. Since then, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has contacted 25 and 30 government bodies in North Carolina in response to complaints from residents about sectarian prayer.

Only one of about two dozen members of the public who spoke Monday night argued that prayers offered to a specific deity don’t belong in government meetings.

“I think what’s going on right now is a clear example of why we need this law, and why it should be obeyed,” said Salisbury resident Chris Crowell, who compared the atmosphere of the meeting to a religious revival.

Rowan County residents might as well gear up for a long and losing battle.  For a preview of what they have to look forward to, here’s how it went in the Forsyth County Commissioners meeting two years ago, when the Commissioners, in defiance of all good sense and good law, decided to appeal two lower court rulings and send their case to the Supreme Court.

Can’t these benighted North Carolina citizens look around the world and see what it’s like to live in a theocracy?   Is that really what they want for our nation?

A UU Forum on Occupy

Posted in "North Carolina", corporatocracy, Economy, Government, NC, Politics, Unitarian, UU, Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on February 7, 2012

At our Sunday morning forum yesterday (2/5/12), our guest speaker was Ethan Smith, representing the local Occupy Winston-Salem group. Most UUs (Unitarian Universalists) are familiar with Occupy and some have been participants.  I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter and occasional participant.

Here's a screenshot of me (on right) at a protest against Wells Fargo, when the top Wells Fargo management was speaking our the convention center. Since we don’t have a TV, my son Chris sent me this screenshot. I was surprised he recognized me, since it was such a fleeting report, and he didn’t know I was participating (probably didn’t even know about the event).


Occupy’s mission includes public education and civic participation to reveal the 1%’s crimes centering in war and money, end the crimes through arrests of the criminals, and enact policies for 100% of Earth’s inhabitants.

A hand-out gave a little bit of the history and philosophy of Occupy, and talked about local issues:

“Occupy Winston-Salem stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the globe as a non-violent, leaderless movement of Americans united to fight the corporate abuse of our democracy, and to take the reins of power away from profit-driven interests and assert our rightful place in the political process.” The handout goes on to mention “the shackles of corporate greed.”

Ethan recounted some of the recent activities of the local group, talked about the commitment to non-violence, and  about the reliance on rotating facilitators at meetings.   Although there have been extreme police reactions to protesters in some cities, the local Winston-Salem police have done their profession proud.  Our local police, our protesters, and our city officials have worked in co-operation.  Some Winston-Salem churches have given strong support.

A UU member (one who is not involved in Occupy, and I don’t know whether or not he sympathizes) objected to the word greed, saying our narrative is wrong. I (though I didn’t speak out) think some of the language often used to describe the Occupy movement reveals a lack of understanding.  I often hear that the Occupiers are pushing for  “redistribution of wealth” (or of income). There are many people who will mis-interpret that, sometimes deliberately.  I think  “redistribution of opportunity” or “expansion of opportunities” is a more accurate description of what we in Occupy want.  Or how about distributive justice.

Ethan talked about our government’s encroachment on liberties, such as the Patriot Act, NDAA, laws and ordinances limiting free speech, arrests of journalists, mass arrests of protesters, such as, in NYC, 700 protesters arrested at once, with journalists being swept up along with protesters.

Freedom of the press in the US has fallen to 47th in the world

Other UUs wondered why Americans are complacent. The data has been out there for years – the data on the wealthy getting richer while the middle class fades into history amidst government policies that favor the powerful.  Why are people so complacent? Is it because we are constantly told we must keep up with sports, fashion, acquisitions and amusements, and so we don’t pay attention to our democracy?  Another UU  suggested the nature of coverage in the news media invites confusion and shallow understanding – everyone tries to look as though they are  “fair and balanced” – and gave as an example the Komen controversy in which news reports did not link this with  faith-based initiatives and the connection of a Komen leader with the congressional investigation of an organization that didn’t need investigating.

I believe there is much than can be done to make America work for all of us.  How about  a tiny tax on stock trades, especially on high frequency ‘flash’ trading.  How about huge fines for corporate criminals, the CEOs of the “corporate people”, aka banks,  responsible for evictions based on robo-signing?

Economic mobility in America has stalled. “Parental income is a better predictor of a child’s future in America than in much of Europe, implying that social mobility is less powerful.” (From The Economist) And as Jason DeParle writes in the New York Times, social mobility is a lot lower in America than in most other developed countries.   The   “work hard and save” formula doesn’t work any more.   Now the best advice for Americans is to choose your parents wisely.

Regardless of where Occupy goes from here, the movement has forced our nation to discuss the increasing inequality that has been hurting middle-income workers for thirty years.

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It’s Move Your Money Week! And so I did.

Posted in "North Carolina", Economy, Government, Government Politics, Local Government, NC, Politics, Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on November 11, 2011

This is Move Your Money Week. And so I did.

 I’ve been happy with Wachovia for more than 30 years. But Wachovia is no more, and Wells Fargo, nee Wachovia, is now charging fees that Wachovia never charged while, according to Reuters, Wells Fargo paid Chief Executive John Stumpf compensation worth $21.3 million for 2009. A year ago, Wachovia/Wells Fargo began charging me a $25 fee for my unsecured line of credit. I’ve had that unsecured $15k for thirty years, never paid for it, and never used it except occasionally due to carelessness – it’s my overdraft protection.

Maybe Mr. Stumpt is worth $21million a year, every year. It doesn’t really look like much when compared to the $43.7 billion in taxpayer bailout funds that went to Wells Fargo. And the $25 annual fee for an unsecured line of credit that I almost never use isn’t going to make a difference in my vacation plans.

But our country’s rising income inequality troubles me. Increasingly wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few, and not because they have worked harder, but because they have influenced the laws that rig the rules. We like to think of America as the land of opportunity, and that once was true. But for the last three decades, economic mobility has become harder in the US than in Denmark, Australia, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Germany or Spain.

Much is amiss in the rigged and under-regulated economy that has seen corporate taxes as a share of the nation’s tax revenues plunge from 28 percent in 1956 to only 11.8 percent in 1996 and to below 10 percent in the early 2000s.

The share of all property taxes paid by corporations dropped from 45 percent in 1957 to 16 percent in 1995 (more recent figures are hard to find, as most states have changed their accounting rules to not break out corporate from personal tax payments, in response to lobbying pressures from corporations).

After decades of campaign contributions from lenders, legislators have re-written the banking rules to favor the banks over the people. Much of this corporate-friendly legislation was even written by the Corporations, instead of by the legislators whose job it is.  (See  http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed  — ALEC Exposed.) So today I moved my checking, savings, money market and credit card to the State Employees Credit Union. And as soon as I’m sure all my charges have cleared, I’ll cut my Bank of American credit card and mail it – or maybe take it – to the bank that notoriously took bail-out funds, gave CEOs huge salaries, and paid no taxes.

It isn’t that hard to Move Your Money, and it will help the economy of your own community.

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