Let’s Talk About The Weather

Remember when talking about the weather was indicative of casual conversation? “We haven’t had much rain.” “Sun is still out.” “Might be nice again today.” And the like. But today, such casual remarks have unfortunate deeper implications. After a series of weekends in January with barbecue weather, I awoke this morning to find the hummingbird feeder frozen solid, a two-to-one sugar mixture had become, at best, a tasty hummingbird margarita. And they weren’t having it. And a little salt and lime wasn’t going to make them feel any better. They needed the nectar to keep them alive.

Our pipes broke last night, in spite of their ample covering. And now we have no water. It is only a minor concern that I can’t take a shower. The faucet won’t run and the chickens are looking at me with a dark curiosity about the possibility of drinking water. The broccoli will spend another day dry. We can only hope that the peas haven’t germinated. The lack of rain was a grave concern. For us on the farm, this new lack of water is of even graver concern. We are screwed.

My farmy friend dug out the pipes around the hoses and we are now waiting for enough of a thaw to determine which pipe was the pipe in question. We are waiting to see if we can fix our water problem. It is almost lunch time and we are barely above freezing. I live in the California foothills and I truly don’t know how the people in Minnesota, the Dakotas and Wisconsin manage. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the break wasn’t at the well. All we can do is hope. So far nothing is running.

Water is a precious resource that we have taken too much for granted. I took a bath last night. It was a true luxury to sit in the tub, lotion and oil at hand, laying back in the brilliant hot water, watching it lick over my legs and feet, indulging in a true extravagance. I had not a care in the world last night as I soaked in gallons of water, relaxing In decadence and refilled as I wished.

Now I wish I had had the foresight not to have drained the tub. I am replenishing the chicken taurines with natural spring water from bottles and filling the dog bowls with jugs. I won’t be able to wash my face today and that is, sadly, the least of my problems.

I am trying to keep the farm animals alive at this juncture and I am not sure how to begin tending to the crops.

We talk about the weather and our fragile climate in the same way that we respond to the grocery store clerk who asks us, “How are you?” We reply, “I’m fine.” We are all fine.

Our mother earth is not fine. She is going through bouts of alarming irregularity, an irregularity, that, if we saw such swings in our friends or family, we would have motivation to intervene, for fear of their health. If a family member or close friend had stopped sleeping for days, we would take note and find ourselves alarmed. If a family member or close friend stopped eating, we would take note and find ourselves alarmed. But our mother earth, who has had trouble sleeping and eating for a few years now, has gone without intervention on our behalf. It is very troubling.

Our mother earth is our life force, she sustains us, keeps us fed and keeps us healthy. If her ability to function faulters, it is an extreme detriment to us all.

And she is faltering. She is struggling to hold it together. And very few of us have taken note and even fewer have begun to do a thing about it.

I don’t usually have access to a bath tub and therefore do not find myself in the constant luxury of such a thing. I enjoyed it last night but now I am filled with regret, not because I took a bath, but because I didn’t have the foresight to see it as a opportunity for necessary conservation. We live simply, without a bath tub, a house heater or the usual amenities that people feel a strong “need” for. And when I found an opportunity for luxury, I didn’t employ the codes that I am used to.

Now I am without water to maintain the beautiful operation of this this farm. I can only hope that we find the problem and can manage it before it becomes a very real emergency.

Stop Buying Girl Scout Cookies

I remember my first and last Girl Scout meeting. My mom told me that I was going to be a scout and I was so excited to learn to tie knots, and for wilderness adventures, that I was jumping for joy. When, at the first meeting, I was told that I would learn to sew a pillow and not much else, I was incredibly disappointed. I refused to return. I am hopeful that the Girl Scouts have come a long way baby in the last 20 years but the fact that the organization still calls itself the “Girl” Scouts, still recruits based on gender interpretation, and whose primary fundraiser involves the distribution of sugar-laden, processed food tells me that the organization still has a long way to go.

Recently, the Huffington Post ran an article about a young Girl Scout who was launching a campaign against the organization for what she perceived to be outward support of transgender rights. She called for the boycott of the organization and their tasty cookies because she didn’t want to support an organization that even remotely tolerates gender non-conformity or is perceived to support LGBT rights. (Too bad she couldn’t be a boy scout. That organization still outwardly discriminates against homosexuals, who are forbidden to join the Boy Scouts or participate in the organization’s activities.) As a counter-action and as a supportive strategy to combating this outright gender discrimination, and gender-perception discrimination, on the part of one particular Girl Scout and those who share her views, many supporters of the LGBT community have begun upping their orders of Girl Scout Cookies.

According to an article put out by CBS News, Girl Scout Cookies are produced by subsidiary agencies of Keebler, whose parent company is Kellogg’s. Like most giant food corporations, the Kellogg Company has been the guilty party in a number of dirty dealings in recent years. Kellogg’s had to pay consumers after a class-action lawsuit determined that the company purposefully misled consumers about the health of their products. Currently, the company is under investigation after three deaths resulting from Salmonella poisoning were genetically linked to the company’s products. Among a vast number of organizations, an organization known as Eco Women, which was founded by women from all across the US to promote access to healthy foods and a healthy environment, called for the boycott of the Kellogg Company in 2008 because of its use of genetically-modified sugar beets in their products. For a well-researched and cited article about the risks of genetically modified foods: http://citizensforjustice.org/component/content/article/112

I am an organic farmer on a small, organic, sustainable farm. I am also a lesbian. I implore folks who are trying to end discriminatory practices to immediately discontinue the policy of buying Girl Scout Cookies. I understand the message our community is trying to send, but buying corporate and processed foods will not end discrimination. On the contrary, buying and supporting corporate agribusiness will absolutely further discrimination in the deepest roots of our societal fabric.

The disenfranchisement of marginalized populations that results from agri-business, and the mass-production and distribution of processed food is many-fold. Corporate food conglomerates have served to destroy small, family-owned businesses all across the country, taking government subsidies to further mono-crop productivity and out-pricing small, diverse farms; they have infiltrated low-income populations with unhealthy foods by systematically cornering markets and blocking access to healthier alternatives; they have consistently and successfully lobbied to limit consumer choices; they have been responsible for a number of extreme pollution incidents, particularly with regard to pesticides and water-poisoning in rural and poorer communities; they have, without apology or a hint of regret, introduced genetically modified foods with no labeling and little or no research as to the GMOs long-term effects on either the earth or the human body; and they are almost single-handedly responsible for the obesity epidemic in this country, which by and large adversely affects already underserved populations, specifically women, children and people of color. The answer to one person’s discriminatory policy should not be to support another’s.

I believe that we need to combat discrimination, empower young women and support our community. I am for supporting programs and organizations that strengthen the community, encourage diversity and enrich lives. Unfortunately, the buying, distributing and eating of Girl Scout Cookies does not serve that purpose.


Less Than Zero

When you are the out, gay kid at school, no matter how smart or talented you are, you are still the gay kid.  You are not the dorky kid.  You are not the Asian kid or the kid who runs track.  You are not the brainy, science kid.  You are not the kid in choir or the kid on the debate team.  You are not the kid most likely to succeed, even if you are short-listed into Harvard and Yale.  You are not the best-dressed.  You are not even the worst-dressed.  You are simply, and always, “the gay kid.”

I had a long conversation with my friend Nolan last night.  He is 18 years old, a senior in high school and he is the gay kid.  Right now, he is listening to his friends fantasize about graduation, about their futures and all the stock that they have put into the American Dream.  They hope to go to college, to get married, to have a nice job, a nice car and to one day own a home.  Nolan understands that his life does not fit into this model.  What he doesn’t understand is that no one’s life does.

The so-called American Dream is a fallacy.  It was so even when I graduated high school, over a decade ago.  But it is ever more so now.  And that fallacy is exponentially more apparent for marginalized populations.

I remember high school.  I have called it the greatest social gauntlet that any person has to endure.  It was excruciating.  But it was also joyful and amazing.  For me, it was the ultimate test of social stratification.  And it was made tolerable by such things as choir, literature, drama and history.  I remember learning about Handel, Fitzgerald, Shakespeare and JFK.  I remember the hope I felt in hearing about the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement.  I remember being excited to enter the society that I had heard so much about for so long.  Like most recent high school graduates, I went through a period of shock after graduating.

Many high school students today do not have the resources that I did when I went to school.  I was lucky enough to face high school in the Bay Area, at the height of the dot com boom, when resources were abundant and electives were many.  Sure, our district faced the glaring budget cuts of the Regan years but our district had recovered well.  I was blessed.  Today, many schools can barely afford an English teacher and, even where teachers are many, thanks to Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” policies, the students are no longer allowed to learn about the enchanting language of “Romeo and Juliet” but are being taught how to take tests.  Kids are now forced to know that the scenes of Romeo and Juliet took place in fair Verona, rather than understand any underlying moral like how formal discrimination takes its toll on our youth.  No wonder, when the bell rings, they are facedown in their smart phones looking for the remnants of decent, enlightened conversation.    This is how we’ve reared America’s future.  We are watching some of the smartest and most socially inept people enter society.  I think we have cause to worry.

We reap what we sow.  As a farmer, I understand this on its most basic level.  As a social commentator, this concept becomes far more esoteric.  I worry for those entering today’s society.

The standards by which kids in high school plan to measure their success are standards that are no longer attainable.  I have been lucky enough to live through the changes in the American Dream, to watch it unravel and to adjust my dreams accordingly.  But those still dewy-eyed and full of life are leaving high school each June and they are in for an alarming surprise.  We have seen the introductory stirrings of such realizations in the Occupy Revolution but, because we are only feeding more American dreamers into this machine, dreamers who will be met with an unpleasant reality, the Occupy Revolution can only be deemed as infant compared to what it will become.

As we settle deeper into this so-called “recession” we are seeing even those that used to have a privileged place in society face the most desperate of situations.  People who have gone to college and have graduated are leaving school with enormous amounts of debt.  But with or without a college degree, people can’t get jobs.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate for the nation, as of December 2nd 2011, was at 8.2 percent.  Of course we know that those numbers are dubious because they do not take into account people who no longer receive unemployment and people who have given up on job searching.  For marginalized populations, it is worse.  According to a CNN article published on September 2nd, 2011, the unemployment rate for blacks this past August surged to 16.7 percent, its highest level since 1984.  But currently, the BLS notes that the population most affected by America’s jobless epidemic are America’s teenagers.  They are facing an unemployment rate of 23.7 percent.

Why do teenagers need money?  Don’t they have parents?  Well yes, but their parents are likely to be unemployed or struggling as well.

I got my first job when I was 15 years old.  I worked in an arcade at a mini golf course for minimum wage.  And I put every cent of it away for college.  Except, to be perfectly honest, for the $30 I spent on a Counting Crows concert.  (Totally worth it!)

America’s youth are forced to be slaves to the same system that currently enslaves all of us.  But they are at the beginning of their lives.  And unlike me, they are starting at less than zero.  Neither they, nor their parents, have money for the luxury of something like a concert.  And for the rest of us, for those that have had to start and restart our lives, like a dying automobile, we are also seeing that we are reentering a place in society, not from an equal footing, but from far behind.  We are sputtering and grinding, trying to get ahead.

I have been traditionally unemployed for the past 8 months.  I do work on the farm that I live on but I am not a wage-earner in any traditional sense of that concept.  Still I know that I am luckier than most.  Though I am a woman, I am white, college-educated and good-looking.  I do not have an accent.  I don’t fall outside the realm of traditional ideals of success.  I have viable skills and a good attitude.

There are those without my good fortune and, like myself, trying to reenter the job market to no avail.  And I have to wonder, what is to stop employers from resorting back to an out-dated policy of discriminatory hiring?  When the job market is inundated with vast number of applicants, if the job-holder isn’t hoping to hire a person of color, a woman, an immigrant, someone who is gay or the many other socially disenfranchised part of the population, what’s to stop them?  Couldn’t job-holders simply validate their position by saying that they “chose the most qualified applicant”?  And if that person doesn’t fit into the social construct of success, what are the repercussions?

As we go further along this road of economic downturn and attrition, I hope deeply that we do not lose the lessons of our past.  I wish that I had more positive advice for my friend Nolan.  I wish that I could tell him that he will leave high school to a world of possibilities.  I don’t think that we can offer such empty hope to our youthful friends.  It is very scary.  And it is very sad.


Our parks: our legacy.

For Donald W. Hodge Sr., whom I never met, and will always love.

When I was 12 years old, my father was my chosen parent to assist in the 6th grade field trip to Yosemite. It was much to my mother’s dismay, seeing as she had always been the parental company for field trips. My parents had been divorced since I was six, and my mother had been my primary parent for the previous six years of my life. It was no insult to her. It was just that my father was the more outdoorsy type.  He and I enjoyed Yosemite together.

Fast forward a couple decades to the present. I am now 31 years old. I visited my father in the Bay Area this past weekend. He is now retired and remembers our Yosemite trip fondly. I know that I can count myself as lucky to have had a parent willing to volunteer as a chaperone, especially on what was a four-day camping trip for a bunch of 12-year-olds. (Thanks Dad!)

For all the wonderful things that my father is, for all the volunteer hours that he put into my childhood, for all the things that I could never fault him for, and for all the wonderful things that I know I am because of him, I can acknowledge that he does have one fault: he is completely ignorant of our family’s genealogy. (One blunder ain’t so bad when it comes to parents. I’ll forgive him.) I truly count myself as blessed.

I have been working on our family’s history for over three years without my father’s help or insight. It is arduous, especially because, on my father’s side, some level of help should have seemed a given. Unlike a number of other Americans, our history is close; it is tangible. On my father’s side, I am a seventh-generation Californian, a many-generational American. Of course, it would seem that any information about my ancestors, on my father’s side, would be accessible. Not so. Still, I am a few steps away from tracing us back to the Mayflower.

I can get my mom’s family back to Portugal and to Russia, into the 1600s. My dad’s family is harder. They just didn’t buy into the lore of family legacy. They were farmers. They were far more concerned with the weather of the next day than they were about the history of Great-Aunt May’s six children. It’s okay. I understand.

Even so, I was surprised when I asked my father what his great-grandparents’ names were and he could give me no answer.

“Dad!” I exclaimed. “Your father’s grandparents?”


I looked down at the family history that I had been constructing, using written records and census data.

I said, “Dad, what about Lucy Ann?”

My father, the sweet man of little words that he is, left the room for a bit without saying anything. This was usual for my father and, as such, I took little notice. He came back with Lucy’s bible from the 1800s.

He looked at me, with his deep blue eyes, handing over the bible and professing honestly. “I didn’t know who Lucy was.”

Along with his great-grandmother’s bible, my father also showed me a family photo book from the 1930s. His father, my grandfather, who died of lung cancer before I was born, got a Masters Degree in New York in the 1930s.

In the book was a picture that my grandfather took of the New York skyline in 1937, from the viewpoint of Ellis Island, a picture that would make any person’s jaw drop with its history. I was blown away. I was suddenly transported to a time in American history before WWII, to a time of Jazz, and the Charleston, and the Great Depression. I was suddenly looking through the eyes of the grandfather that I never knew. I was looking at what once was. And to know what has since become, made me marvel at the time that had passed.

In the same book, there was also a picture of Yosemite falls. I knew it instantly. It wasn’t like the changed New York skyline. It was a classic. There was not a moment of doubt because there was not an element of change. The Falls of the 1930s looked exactly like the Falls of mine and my father’s 6th-grade adventure from 20 years before. And it was the very same image from my backpacking trip last year. Yosemite Falls hadn’t changed a bit. Looking at my family’s falling-apart photo book, there was not a moment of hesitation in my identification. I knew.

“Yosemite Falls!” I squealed to my parents and passed the aged book around.

Thanks be to history for John Muir, Ansel Adams and all the other pioneers of their time. Further thanks be to history, and our naturalists, for the National and State Parks program that preserved something as precious and as outstanding as Yosemite Falls. That it would remain unchanged, enough that I could identify it from a photograph, from a place in time from almost a century earlier, was enough to have me take pause.

If I did not know it before, I learned the meaning of our National and State Parks system this past weekend, through the eyes of my family, through the eyes of my passed grandfather, whom I never met. Even if my New York wasn’t his, my grandfather’s Yosemite Falls was my Yosemite Falls. It was not through its own wonderful glory that the Yosemite Falls appeared to me in photographs, but, by contrast, through its own, perfect historic legacy, Yosemite Falls appeared to me as plain as it stands today. My grandfather was able to visit a natural entity, in its perfect preservation, in his lifetime, in his blessed existence, and he gave that to me, even when I couldn’t know him in life. Yosemite Falls, and my grandfather’s granddaughter, were given an abundant gift: we were given the same opportunity for community. My grandfather gave me nothing in his life, but he gave me his Yosemite Falls.

For those of us in our regional communities, who are facing the closure of our parks, we are not just facing the closure of lands or of an historical landmark or building, for many of us, we are facing the cut-off of a greater history and of a generation that preceded us. For many of us, the closing of our state parks means the closing of our family history.

The state parks are a legacy for our children. They were handed down by a generations that preceded us. They are not just a part of some land that is dotted by a few “no parking” signs. They are our grandmother and grandfather’s honeymoons. They are out parent’s first dates. They are our first kiss.

For close-nit communities, such as those in Nevada County, a community that is set to lose the Bridgeport and Yuba River state parks, such a loss is outwardly devastating. And for many larger communities, folks are yet to be aware of the devastation that they will face in losing their state parks.

The insight that I was given this past weekend has made it perfectly clear to me: no park is too small or too big to warrant saving. We cannot make our grandfather’s pictures a thing of the past, a thing of mere photographs. Our grandfather’s photographs are our lives. Our parks’ history is in our blood; they are the memories made from those that came before us. The closure of our state parks gives away our birthright I want the children in my life to see my pictures and exclaim with joy in the same way that I could in seeing my grandfather’s photographs. I want the children in my life to have cause to squeal jubilantly.

We cannot stand by and watch our parks close without a fight! They mean something and we must fight for them! We are our state parks. Their proposed closures are a travesty. Join me. Save our state parks! ¬¬¬


I’m afraid of rhubarb. It’s not my fault. The leaves are poisonous. That childhood-ingrained warning of “Don’t touch that! It’s poisonous!” got the worst of me. We have had rhubarb on the farm this entire year and I haven’t touched it. I have canned persimmons, blackberries and strawberries. I made pumpkin pie from scratch, from pumpkins I grew myself. I have even learned how to pressure-cook., putting together beans and potatoes for future use. I can claim that I am a proficient canner. But I haven’t touched the rhubarb.

There are so many recipes. Strawberry-rhubarb jam. Ginger-rhubarb chutney. Onion-rhubarb compote. Orange-rhubarb marmalade. But I’m a wimp. The poisonous leaves thing deterred me. I just couldn’t do it.

I am living the farm life. I have dealt with potato bugs the size of small aliens and yet I couldn’t bring myself to delve into the wonders of rhubarb.

Tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow, rhubarb and I will make peace amongst ourselves. I am willing to give it a try.

My partner and I visited my father and step-mother in the San Francisco Bay Area this past weekend and we were sent home with an abundance of oranges. It was an urban foraging project.

My parents’ next-door neighbor has an orange tree whose branches hang over into their yard. Let’s just be honest: more of the orange tree falls on our side than theirs. It has always been a shared orange tree. We have picked oranges from the tree, through the twenty years that they have lived there, and through the 6 or 7 residents who have occupied the next-door neighbor residency. It is, perhaps, more our tree than theirs. Fortunately, the neighbors see it that way too. They have “no real use” for the oranges. And so I was sent home with 50 or so pounds of oranges to do with what I will.

I now have enough oranges to go into the marmalade business. But I can’t stop there. Marmalade is awesome. But being the creative canner that I have become, I know that it would be a shame to stop there. Orange marmalade? Of course. But what else is there? And so my recipe book has brought me to my nemesis: the dreaded rhubarb.

But we are going to do this. I will shy away no more. Orange rhubarb marmalade? Here I come!

To be continued…


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” –The Declaration of Independence

The original text of the Declaration of Independence, the radical document that sparked the American Revolution, did not contain the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” but rather, “life, liberty and the pursuit of property.” In his 1689 publication, “A Letter Concerning Toleration”, John Locke, a clear inspiration for America’s founding texts, wrote that “[The] civil interest I call is for is life, liberty, health, and indolence of body; and the possession of outward things…” The pursuit of “property” line was changed to “happiness” by our forefathers after Benjamin Franklin agreed with Thomas Jefferson on its dubious implications. The forefathers weren’t dumb. I believe that they understood, if only obscurely, that the not-yet nation of America was stolen from indigenous people, and built of the backs of slaves and indentured servants. If the “pursuit of property” was listed as an inalienable right, they would have a lot of explaining to do to the abundant non-propertied classes in the colonies.

The original text was important, however, and it was historically relevant. The legacy of Europe’s gentry was such that it did not offer open availability to such a thing as “private property.” There was no such thing as a middle class and, moreover, land-ownership was reserved only for those appointed by the crown. Many Europeans still live with that legacy today, “owning” homes on contracts that may be forfeited to their respective crowns after a set period of time.

Because of the inability for people to own land in Europe, part of America’s founding was to make property available to those not served by a crown. Up until relatively recent events in America’s history, private property still seemed like an attainable goal for a vast majority of the population, even if not an inalienable right. It used to be that America’s middle class could buy a house, in other words, own private property. We have seen how that legacy has unfolded and how Americans are now facing a new era where private property rights are once again reserved for only the privileged classes.

Franklin noted in his autobiography that obtaining property was a “creature of society” and should be taxed as a way to finance civil society. Today in America we live with Franklin’s legacy; the propertied classes pay taxes, (notionally,) on their land assets. The revenues are used, (supposedly,) to fund the commons such as parks, police, firefighters, roads, sidewalks etc. We are, without equivocation, watching that legacy unravel.

We are now living at a time where property belongs, more and more, to the wealthy and to corporate conglomerates; the commons, which Franklin so efficiently envisioned, have been under-funded, defunded or forfeited to the profit of private companies. The American middle class, those that once envisioned how to thrive, are now deriving plans on how to survive.

Feudalism is defined as “a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service of labor.” (Wikipedia) In medieval Europe, the propertied classes made the rules. For someone to survive, they had to pledge homage and an oath of fealty (loyalty) to someone with property. Doing so would give a person a home, land to work and a life to live. There were, essentially, no other viable options for those that didn’t own property. The feudal life was as close as it came to self-sufficiency, and, to be real, that was a long way off.

Interestingly, for many historians, the sentiments about traditional feudalism bring up notions of security, attributing the system to a sort of mutual trust, whereby the land-owner provides shelter for the disenfranchised, allowing a marginalized population to subsist, where they otherwise might have gone hungry or would have succumbed to cold, disease or exposure. When the matter is one of life and death, and the choices are so elementary, it is easy to pinpoint a martyr. I doubt that the majority of feudal slaves felt a great gratitude toward their masters.

Neo-feudalism is the intermediate term that acknowledges that we are re-entering that age. In this country, Neo-feudalism is still working on its definition. In other parts of the world, its definition is more dire. In her essay, “Applying a Security Governance Perspective to the Privatization of Security”, Marina Caparini of South Africa notes that, “Security…is no longer a public good, but a commodity available only to those who can afford it. This is arguably what has occurred in South Africa (and other [African] states), where the proliferation of commercial security has resulted in a ‘new apartheid,’ or neo-feudalism, characterized by fortified islands of security from which undesirables are excluded.” For many populations across the world, for those who already facing the fall-out from globalization and its unrealized promises, the concept of Neo-feudalism has already taken hold.

We witnessed the surfacing of this reality in our own country with Occupy Wall Street, where citizens and their constitutionally-guaranteed right to protest was not honored or protected by NYPD, but rather the NYPD protected the property of the bank buildings. Like all of the police forces across this nation, the NYPD has seen their budget decreased significantly. However, JPMorgan Chase’s own website reports that, “Beginning in 2010, JPMorgan Chase donated technology, time and resources valued at $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation, including 1,000 new patrol car laptops. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing “profound gratitude” for the company’s donation.” So when it came time for the NYPD to serve and protect, they were loyal to their feudal lords.

The emergence of Neo-feudalism in this country is incredibly alarming. And we would be fools to think that it will not get worse. As the wealth continues to be more and more concentrated at the top, and as the commons continue to be under-funded and then subsequently subsidized by corporate interests, the basic needs of the population, such as police protection will, be more and more for only those who can afford it.

Because of the incredible wealth disparity in this country, we are returning to a feudal age. Now, instead of the crown, we have America’s top 1% functioning in the same way. As reported in a Vanity Fair article published in May 2011, “The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent.” America has become exactly what our forefathers declared independence from.

The questions that weigh on my mind: Can we reverse this trend? And if not, what will happen to those of us unwilling to pledge fealty to the feudal lords?