Friday, April 1, 2011

Fun With Haiku

Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry which uses an economy of words (17 sound units – or syllables in English) to paint a multi-tiered picture. Haiku differs from other forms of poetry in that its focus is on "showing" as opposed to "telling", without “telling all”. As haiku master, Matsuo Bashō, once put it, "The haiku that reveals seventy to eighty percent of its subject is good. Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent, we never tire of." What follows are (3) politically inspired haiku’s I recently wrote. After you’ve read each passage use the “telling” information at the bottom of this post to see if you can figure out which subject each haiku pertains to. I know… I’m making you do a lot of thinking for a Friday afternoon – my bad.

Haiku #1:

Clouds form far then near
Tainted springs share their bounty
Darkness engulfs light

Haiku #2:

Ripe fruit arches branch
Sun shines bright on canopy
Moss grows thick beneath

Haiku #3:

Shadows on the plain
Crops harvested by dark of night
Fatted calf suckling

Subject Key:

A) GE not paying taxes / Jeffrey Immelt appointed leader of Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness / political corruption: The following headline recently appeared in the New York Times: “G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.” Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year. As The Times’s David Kocieniewski reported, “Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.” G.E. is the nation’s largest corporation. Its chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, is the leader of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Can you say dirty poker? And to think coming into this whole mess Obama was convinced he could rise above it. Absolute power corrupts absolutely (every time).

B) Rich getting richer / socio-economic inequality / maldistribution of wealth in America: There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But the folks at the top seem to be reaping all the benefits. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received 100 percent of the average income growth from 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion. The current maldistribution of wealth is just as mind boggling. In 2009, the richest 5 percent of Americans claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent. This inequality and downward mobility is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Translation: if you own a small business better get yo gun cuz lootin’ and riotin’ are imminent.

C) Decision to bomb Libya / dependence on foreign oil / misplaced government priorities: The United States invests in yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously slashing spending on education, laying off firemen and police officers, and generally letting things go to hell in a hand basket here at home. Unemployment is at a historic high while public morale is at a historic low after years of misguided economic policies. Greed, corruption, and a voracious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities, it seems we’ve lost our way entirely. In other words it’s a complete Charlie Foxtrot and we have big government to thank for it.

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