How Tough Is Motherhood? - April 23, 2014 by zeldalegacy

I’m forced awake before 6am everyday for another round of this thing that is life. I’m always woken by screams after a night of perhaps five broken hours of sleep. I tend to the basic necessities of two small human beings – I feed, wash and clothe them. I express my love for them. Over […]
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Losing Steam: Scorecard Shows Slow Progress on Pakistan Economic Policies - April 22, 2014 by zeldalegacy

With CIPE support, the Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME), an independent economic think tank, has been monitoring progress on the government’s economic manifesto via a carefully designed scorecard. The results show that while the new government has made some progress, implementation of its election promises remains slow. CONTINUE READING

CIPE Development Blog

In Search of Tiny Yellow Flowers - April 22, 2014 by zeldalegacy

On Thursday, April 16, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1982) took leave of this earth. I learned of his passing late in the evening while perusing the day’s news and was immediately saddened by his passing. The first thing I envisioned was Mexico City blanketed in tiny yellow flowers, as in the passage from One Hundred Years of Solitude etched upon my heart the moment I read and reread the last paragraph of what, if numbered, would be chapter seven:

” Then they went into José Arcadia Buendia’s room, shook him as hard as they could, shouted in his ear, put a mirror in front of his nostrils, but they could not awaken him. A short time later, when the carpenter was taking measurements for the coffin, through the window they saw a light rain of tiny yellow flowers falling. They fell on the town all through the night in a silent storm, and they covered the roofs and blocked the doors and smothered the animals who slept outdoors. So many flowers fell from the sky that in the morning the streets were carpeted with a compact cushion and they had to clear them away with shovels and rakes so that the funeral procession could pass by.”

While many offered and still offer their interpretations of those flowers, the imagery of those magical flowers, the weeping of those petals from the skies, drew me nearer to the language of the novel, immersed me fully in the telling of the story of the Buendia family. I fell in love with the imagination of Señor Garcia Marquez. I prayed my own imagination would blossom from his writing.

In this post, I am not interested in the author’s longtime relationship with Fidel Castro, nor whether or not Garcia Marquez was the first true author of magical realism. Garcia Marquez brought a passion to writing I often lacked. Plus, his ability to weave the magic from an ordinary or extraordinary day, the fantastical elements of nature, and the “Surrealism (that) comes from the reality of Latin America” into his novels captured the story telling I’d heard from various aunts and uncles growing up. Whether at small kitchen tables, back porches, or crowded living rooms, the stories shared were embellishments of a youth long past or the brightened coloring of an impoverished household. Children grew like weeds over night, boys ran faster than the train engines crossing 21st street, tortillas melted like butter upon the tongue, women sang like lipsticked nightingales, and men drank gallons of tequila before passing out upon tiny beds made from serape-draped guitars. Gabriel Garcia Marquez could have been one of my uncles drinking beer at the table with my father. The first time I saw a photo of Garcia Marquez, I knew his laugh would surely be the same as my Uncle Marshall or his brother, my Uncle Jimmy.

So, I was surprised this morning when I learned my parents, especially my mother, were unfamiliar with the author’s works. Following Easter Mass, as we ordered breakfast at Red Bean’s Bayou Grill, my mother asked if I could help her download to her Kindle a book or two “by the writer in Mexico City who just died. The news piece said one of his books is the greatest book ever written and has been read all over the world in many languages.” I felt ashamed I had never introduced my mother, the one who walked with me to the local public library, the one who fueled my passion for books, to the one author who’d captured glimpses of those baritone voices in song around our kitchen table. I told her I would not download to her Kindle, but would bring her my books. She was thrilled.

I will now enjoy rereading Garcia Marquez through my mother. I know she will have questions, and I know she will want to see the film Love in the Time of Cholera, as she always likes to view those movies inspired or adapted from novels. And I will wait to see if she glimpses the magic of her own hard-working life or the realities of the community in which she planted her own trees and flowers. And as she reads, I will begin to write, drawing from the idea of Garcia Marquez,  “…there’s a learning process you have to go through again before you rediscover the warmth that comes over you when you are writing.”  For my own arm is cold, but with the great author’s passing, my soul is warm with inspiration and I am hopeful it will spread to my hands and fingers, but more  importantly, my imagination.

An excerpt from Garden (2011)- Olmsted

            “Her grandmother pinched the live flowers from their stalks, catching their vibrant heads that immediately shriveled and dried as they fell into the woven basket on her arm. As her abuela moved through the garden, she never looked at her granddaughter, and Amalia was relieved. But, why was she afraid of what she might see in the face of her grandmother? Would she look into those brown, almost apologetic eyes, the eyes she recognized in the mirror when she gazed upon her own small face? Would she see the freckled, sagging cheeks Amalia used to hold between her tiny hands. Or would she see something she didn’t recognize? Something long dead. Amalia listened as her grandmother began to sing, her words echoing against the side of the house and filling Amalia with a familiar sadness, “In the train of the absent, I go away, my ticket does not have a return…”













Filed under: Mi Familia, My Writing Life Tagged: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, magical realism, nature, One Hundred Years of Solitude, writing, yellow flowers
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Ukraine Small Businesses Unite to Call for Policy Reforms - April 21, 2014 by zeldalegacy

In the weeks following the so-called “EuroMaidan” protests in Kyiv that led to the installation of an interim government and the scheduling of early presidential elections, attention in Ukraine began to turn to the need for urgent measures to jump-start the economy, as well as for a comprehensive set of policy reforms in the medium- to longer-term to get the country on track. CONTINUE READING

CIPE Development Blog

Singapore, Democracy, and Economic Development - April 21, 2014 by zeldalegacy

In this decade, perhaps the defining story of global significance is the rise of China in the global economy as it displaces Japan to become the world’s second biggest economy. It is no coincidence then that the prevailing view that democracy should go hand-in-hand with development was seriously challenged at the time as China’s economic success overshadowed U.S. culpability in the Global…

CIPE Development Blog

Cheerios: Download a coupon, lose your right to sue - April 20, 2014 by zeldalegacy

A recent New York Times article warned consumers that by clicking “Like” on the Facebook page of General Mills, the maker of Cheerios and other products, they would be agreeing to limit themselves to resolve disputes with the company through informal emails or binding arbitration. Consumers would have no recourse to the courts and could [...]
The Litigator – Affleck Greene McMurtry, LLP

An Open Letter to My Boobs - April 19, 2014 by zeldalegacy

Dear Bionic Boobs, I know you’ve been adjusting to your new digs since the reconstruction surgery seven months ago. I’ve protected you from wild elbows, supported you with a bra, and exercised you by smooshing you girls together. (Doctor’s orders.) You seem happy enough and pretty perky. I do have some concerns. One night, I […]
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I am a Nationalist - April 19, 2014 by zeldalegacy

By David Morgan There you go – I’ve said it. I subscribe to a political philosophy that (in the context of the Scottish Independence debate at least) dare not speak its name. The very word itself has become a term of almost universal opprobrium. Whether it’s Scot Nats, Cybernats or Brit Nats the very word […]
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The Energy Source of the Future - April 18, 2014 by zeldalegacy

“Scientists have discovered an enormous energy source for the world…located in the poorest countries in the world,” announced Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) President John Hamre recently. “If we tap it, this energy source will double or triple GDP growth in those countries.” CONTINUE READING

CIPE Development Blog

I’m all for doing good to the poor … - April 18, 2014 by zeldalegacy

Some experts believe the decline in workforce participation is the legacy of the Great Recession and that it will improve. That rate is only 63.2%; it was nearly 67% in 1990.

But structural changes are plainly at work too, based in part on slower-moving demographic factors. A 2012 study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago estimated that about one-quarter of the decline in labor-force participation since the start of the Great Recession can be traced to retirements. Other economists have attributed about half of the drop to the aging of baby boomers.

Baby boomers can’t be the whole story, though, since the participation rate has declined for younger workers too. This part of the drop is a function of various factors, including simple discouragement, poor work incentives created by public policies, inadequate schooling and training, and a greater propensity to seek disability insurance. Globalization and technological change have also reduced employment and wage growth for low-skilled workers—which raises questions about whether current policy is focused enough on helping workers to achieve the skills necessary to work productively and earn decent incomes. Excerpt from WSJ 4-5-14

I think I said something like this before, we are focused on the wrong things. That is, we pat ourselves on the back at the growing numbers of participants in government programs for the poor and low income (programs that make not working more comfortable for those so inclined) when we should delight in increasing the employment and employment participation rate and work toward that goal. What good does it do to hype raising the minimum age when 37% of the adult workforce has stopped looking for work?

I, like most Americans, want more than the basics, mere subsistence in life. However, for some especially low-skilled and poorly educated citizens, going from unemployment to Social Security disability with food stamps and Medicaid and tax credits may be sufficient to stop trying.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.”

Shouldn’t our focus be not on palliative care, but on correct diagnosis and treatment focused on a cure? Instead we have more programs providing disincentives to work and grow income.

Filed under: Government, Observations on life Tagged: poor, underemployed, unemployed, workfore participstion

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