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Wimpy and Popeye Economics ( 0) Printer friendly page Print This
By Mankh (William E. Harris III)
Monday, Oct 13, 2008

"The question is not whether we can afford to squander $3 trillion or $5 trillion. We can. But our strength will be sapped. There is no such thing as a free war," Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told Joint Economic Committee members in February of 2008.
Oh, what of the colonial occupation of Iraq to the dirge-tune of 3-to-5 trillion? Not even God could bail that out, but that's because HE-SHE-IT doesn't deal in such finances. Clean air, water, soil, food... THOSE are the dominions of the higher beings that some refer to as "God," but they need our help.
California wants a 7 billion bailout. New York state is facing a 1.2 billion shortfall, and according to Newsday, "Gov. David A. Paterson said that at least $2 billion in cuts are needed to help close the ever-widening gap."
Meanwhile the worker-slaves, those not privy to the gargantuan fruits of a corrupt system, must "oh Lordy, pick a bale a day." An honest day's work earning an honest day's pay seems a fair equation that deserves its day. Minimum wage bailout? American Indian bailout? African-American bailout? Prison bailout for non-threatening drug-offenders?
The United States of Amnesia, as Gore Vidal likes to call it, has seemingly forgotten that finances really do not rule the world. Of course, they do in a man-made sense but as to what is truly important, money means nothing. Money means nothing to a blade of grass. Money means nothing to the smile of a child. Money means nothing to the light that shines forth from our eyes. Money is an illusion created to... to what?... I'm not sure... perhaps created so as to exchange STUFF as George Carlin liked to call the material objects that money can buy.
But wait, it's not even money that's buying STUFF, rather it's FLUFF aka credit and speculation. And that's how we got into this mess. Since I'm not an economist, I call it J. Wellington Wimpy economics or Wimpy economics for short. Here's how it works: "I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." That's what Popeye's cartoon friend said when attempting to scam a meal.
Oh, how Wimpy some people get when their pocketbooks, wallets, and accounts are threatened. What uproar when seemingly everything is threatened by financial Armageddon. Hot air winds from TV pundits shake their station logos. Wall Street evangelists scream "Hedge-fund-fire and bond-stone!" Would the entire system have gone belly-up without a bailout? I don't know, but sadly it already has for some Africans and others. And what of American soldiers and Iraqi soldiers and citizens? Thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of lives lost... no way to bailout.
On an environmental level we have recently started "going Green." What about Brownish-Gray for tree barks? What about Red for male cardinals and strawberries? What about Orange for oranges? What about Yellow for lemons? And Blue for the Sky and Purple for eggplant and psychic visions and Rose-Pink for sunlit clouds? What about some kind of beige color for the skin we call white, plus colors for all the subtle and deep shades of brown for those who have left their skins on the battlefields of wars costings trillions of dollars?  
The economy, the environment, and our ecological well-being are all intertwined. If we are seriously into "going green" (or better yet "going rainbow"), and learning how to get by on less-- let's study more, converse and consult more with indigenous peoples, tribal peoples, aboriginese, monks, nuns, mystics, Taoists, and others who truly know how to live on the land, live with less. Let's call that Popeye economics to remind us what spinach, or anything grown wholesomely from the soil, can do for us. As Paul Newman once said: “We are such spendthrifts with our lives. The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.”
Until we start paying for hamburgers, or veggie burgers TODAY, as well as feeding those who can't afford it yesterday, the economy will continue to go begging for bailouts. Until we learn that a fruit tree in one man's yard is meant to feed a neighborhood, there will be plenty of Wimpys to watch out for, and plenty of skinny Popeyes looking for some tasty spinach. 

Mankh (Walter E. Harris III), a poet and essayist, is the author of Singing an Epic of Peace; author/edited Haiku One Breaths; and is currently editing an anthology of essays and poems entitled Modern Muses: How Artists Become Inspired. He can be contacted at

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