Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Capitalism as Terrorism

dollars and American flag

 

 

“Guerilla Marketing,” “Survival-of-the Fittest-Capitalism,” “How to Succeed in Business by Killing the Competition,” “Hostile Takeovers,” etc., etc. We are all familiar with the books, lectures, seminars, economic gurus, trendy management strategies, slogans, etc., etc. which dominate the business world and corporate thinking. But have you ever thought about what these strategies and ideas really mean?

In today’s competitive world, competition has increased to the point of desperation where anything goes and every immoral act is tolerated — and even encouraged. It becomes harder and harder for companies to compete and survive. They must resort to evermore desperate strategies to survive the competitor around the corner who is waiting for a chance to rip out their throat. The business world is a jungle where only the very strongest can survive for long.

At the same time, the companies who have succeeded in surviving look increasingly for ways to eliminate competition through legislation, buying illegitimate political power, investing overseas, downsizing, cutting wages and benefits, and creating an environment where smaller companies have a difficult, if not impossible time, succeeding.

If this competition affects corporations and small business, it equally affects workers who must equally engage in a jungle struggle to survive. The fear of being laid off or downsized out of a job creates an atmosphere of fear, antagonism to fellow workers, and outright hostility towards anybody perceived as a threat.

These fears and anxieties are carried home and into the classrooms. At a younger and younger age, children are told that they must learn to compete in school, in college, and in a future career. To not compete is to be eliminated in the social jungle that is called America.

Thus, we see a society torn apart by competitiveness and the need to survive.

Corporations seize control of their competitors; men blame women for entering the workforce; reports of domestic violence, child abuse, and rape increase; whites blame blacks; blacks blame whites; American citizens blame illegal immigrants; workers blame welfare recipients; the young blame elderly Social Security recipients; Democrats blame Republicans while Republicans accuse Democrats of every crime under the sun; the rich blame the poor, etc.

An economic system that encourages competition indirectly encourages violence, crime, and every act of immorality. People will do whatever it takes to survive.

When companies engage in acts of terrorism, it is considered good business.

When ordinary people engage in aggressive acts, it is considered a crime.

Ordinary citizens have as much right to survive as any corporation. And they have as much right to engage in whatever tactics are required to survive.

Dawn Pisturino

May 23, 1998

Copyright 1998-2016 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Published on the Committee for Direct Democracy Website and in the Committee for Direct Democracy Information Packet 1998-2000.

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Reflections on My Visit to Cuba 2000

Havana Cuba

I did not know much about Cuba; in fact, I never really thought about it until I had an opportunity to go there as a U.S. Delegate in 2000. Prior to leaving, I did research into Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and the Cuban Revolution — fascinating stuff!

I did not know, for example, that Che Guevara was a medical doctor who suffered from severe asthmatic attacks. Fidel Castro came from a land-owning family and studied to be a lawyer. Cuba had been marked by political upheaval for about 75 years prior to the Cuban Revolution. The final insult came with the Batista dictatorship, which was fully supported by the U.S. government and U.S. companies, who owned large amounts of land, industries, and other resources in Cuba.

Poverty was widespread among Cuban workers. The Batista government tortured and murdered huge numbers of Cuban citizens. A wide gap existed between rich and poor. Political elections were rigged to favor Batista and his cohorts.

Fidel Castro was a charismatic young man who became a major critic of the Batista government. He led a successful military campaign, along with Che Guevara and other guerilla fighters, which ultimately forced Batista and his supporters to flee the country.

With the Agrarian Reform Act, agricultural tracts were seized and divided up among the peasants who had worked the land and suffered great deprivations at the hands of large companies and land owners.

In retaliation, the U.S. government imposed an immediate economic blockade against Cuba. The blockade has been successfully kept in place for decades at the behest of Cuban-Americans living in the U.S., right-wing conservatives, and companies such as the Bacardi Rum Company.

Over 4,000 people attended the 5-day conference, representing more than 115 countries around the world.

The first two days were devoted to speeches by government officials who explained the blockade, how it was hurting the Cuban economy, and what steps were being taken to adapt to the continued sanctions.

The next two days involved participation in various committees and listening to speeches by delegates.

One afternoon, we were encouraged to visit various medical and educational facilities. I chose to tour the Latin American School of Medical Sciences. In the evening, we were treated to cultural events and a neighborhood block party.

On the last day, we participated in an outdoor rally attended by Fidel Castro. Speeches by delegates and performances by Cuban artists were featured. That evening, we attended a five-hour speech given in person by Fidel Castro.

He explained how loans by the IMF and the World Bank impose harsh conditions on Third World countries,which gives power over these countries to larger, prosperous countries like the United States. He adamantly reinforced that Cuba and the Cuban people would not bow down to these conditions. They would prefer to remain poor and continue to fight the blockade rather than give up their independence to a foreign power. Although the speech was long and tedious, quoting lots of statistics, the information he gave was very valuable.

We were told we could not leave Cuba the next day, so some of us participated in various tours. Some people drove out to the countryside to visit the Che Guevara Memorial and to investigate the agricultural industry. Others chose to visit a cigar factory. I went with some others to Old Havana to explore the Museum of the Revolution and the Floridito Bar, where Ernest Hemingway used to hang out. We also saw the beautiful old Bacardi Rum building, which is now used for other purposes.

We were never restricted from going anywhere or talking to anyone. The only limitation was language, since most Havanans do not speak English, and most delegates did not speak Spanish.

It was fascinating to be part of such a multi-cultural experience. There were many people from Latin America and Africa. Many delegates came from India and Bangladesh. Six hundred Americans participated in the event. My group donated a large supply of antibiotics, antifungals, and medical journals. Quite a large number of Canadians were present, as well as a few people from Australia and Great Britain. One delegate from Israel spoke about the atrocities being committed by his country against Palestine. About ten Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon represented Palestine and received great rounds of applause. Other delegates came from Italy, Germany, Spain, Norway, Russia, China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Iran.

Delegates represented all adult ages and socioeconomic groups. There were laborers, students, ministers, teachers, doctors, nurses, and retired folks. Disabled people included a 91-year old gentleman, a blind man who brought his seeing-eye dog, a man bound to a wheelchair, and a young man who could only communicate through sign language.

We were all required to wear special badges and could not attend events without showing them. These badges also identified us to the general population as participants in the conference. People would stop us on the streets and thank us. Children would cheer us and clap their hands. We were always treated like VIPs.

Delegates visited the homes of local Cubans and were hosted for dinner and lodging. One American girl lived with a family for three days.

During the conference, delegates were provided with transistor radios and earphones which could be set to receive the English translation.

Transportation and lodging were provided by the Cuban government, but delegates were free to walk around Havana at any time of the day or night. Although there were scores of police, most of them only carried a night stick. They did not hassle delegates. Their main function was to provide security and control the flow of traffic.

 My delegation stayed at the beautifully-restored Copacabana Hotel, which was a famous luxury hotel and yacht club prior to the Cuban Revolution. It was also one of the hotels controlled by the Sicilian Mafia, which was kicked out of Cuba by Fidel Castro after the Revolution.

Local Cubans were very open about their poverty and devotion to Fidel Castro. In their minds, the Cuban Revolution is on-going. They are very proud of what they have accomplished under difficult conditions. They reiterated over and over again that they would defend Cuba to the death.

There was a great deal of hatred expressed among delegates and by Cubans themselves toward the U.S. government, and the presidential election of 2000 became a hot topic when the possibility of election fraud came up. We watched the news coverage daily on CNN.

The Cubans have created a very stable society based on solidarity and mutual cooperation. The basic unit is the family. Families are assigned to neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are assigned to a district. Each district boasts a health clinic, schools, senior center, and police force. A committee elected by the people oversees the district. Committee members ensure that children are vaccinated, seniors are cared for, and families receive adequate housing and food.

Food is rationed, with pregnant and nursing women, children, and senior citizens required to receive an adequate amount of calories everyday. There is a ratio of one doctor to 170 residents. In the schools, classroom size is limited to 10-20 students.

Education and healthcare are free. 85% of Cubans own their own home, and there is no property tax. Rents are kept very low. The prices on basic commodities are kept at 1960s prices. The average wages are ten to thirty American dollars per month, and there is no income tax.

Travel is limited by a shortage of oil and gasoline. Tourists from Canada and Germany are commonplace.

November 20, 2000

Dawn Pisturino, RN

Copyright 2000-2015 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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I WENT TO CUBA

copacabana Copacabana Hotel, Havana, Cuba

In 2000, I went to Havana, Cuba with a group of activists seeking to end the U.S. embargo. This is the letter I wrote to the State Department, U.S. Senators, and several newspapers after my return to the U.S.:

“In a global economy, the U.S. sanctions against Cuba make no sense. They were imposed 41 years ago in defiance of the Cuban Revolution, which toppled the U.S.-supported Batista dictatorship and robbed American companies of great tracts of land and other valuable resources.

“The fear of a Soviet influence so close to home made it reasonable to impose such sanctions; but that threat no longer exists. The United States can no longer justify these radical measures.

“For four decades, the Cuban population has struggled with severe poverty and the great weight of bringing an idealistic social experiment to fruition.

“While the spirit of the Cuban Revolution continues to motivate and inspire the general population, the Cuban government has been forced to adapt the economy to the conditions imposed by the U.S. sanctions. According to Carlos Lage, vice-president of the Council of State, there is a new movement toward opening Cuba’s borders to tourism and commercial exchange. This year alone, 1.8 million tourists (including 100,000 U.S. citizens) are expected to visit, and this number is expected to rise by 19 percent annually.

“Cuba is now accepting foreign investments, with restrictions; entering into joint ventures with private companies; and contracting with private foreign companies to manage state-owned enterprises.

“Representatives of the Cuban government freely admit that the country lacks the knowledge and technology necessary to create profitable enterprises. Over the last few years, they have accepted $4.5 billion in foreign investments of capital, technology, and marketing expertise.

“While publicly upholding the ideals of socialism, the Cubans are gradually leaning toward the realities of capitalism. They prefer to use their own resources, if possible, and privatization at this time has been condemned. But they are realizing the need to market their products in a global economy.

“The current trend is to create associations (Rum Association, Tobacco Association, Nickel Association, etc.) with foreign companies that agree to market the designated product in exchange for cash or social services (doctors, teachers, etc.)

“Tourism is now being touted as the No.1 revenue-producing enterprise in the country so there is much new construction and restoration taking place. The government has mandated a dual economy that freely accepts and circulates both American dollars and Cuban pesos.

“The Cuban government openly acknowledges that inequalities exist and that complete equality between people is not possible. To pacify the anxiety of the Cuban people, prices on basic commodities are deliberately kept low and wages are being raised, especially in the revenue-producing sectors of the economy (such as tourism). There is no underlying feeling among the general population of widespread discontent; in fact, it is estimated that 80 percent of the population supports Fidel Castro as a leader and national hero.

“Fidel Castro is Cuba, and there is concern among the Cuban people that when Fidel Castro dies, Cuba, as they know it now, will also die.

“Ordinary Cubans do not understand why the U.S. government hates them and deprives them of necessary food and medicines. It is not surprising that the U.S. government is generally characterized as “an evil capitalist monster” that seeks to destroy the Cuban people.

“Like people everywhere, the Cuban people want to be recognized as a legitimate society within the global economy. They want to sell their products in the global marketplace and raise their standard of living. Therefore, the Cuban government is negotiating with other countries to create a Latin American-Caribbean Trading Bloc.

“The embargo has not stopped Cuba from procuring American brand-name products for resale to the general public. Familiar tobacco products such as Salem, Winston, and Marlboro cigarettes sit openly on vendor shelves. Coca-Cola and Sprite are sold freely in restaurants and stores. Kellogg’s cereals are proudly served in hotels and restaurants. Famous brand-name candies like Snickers and M&Ms are sold in shops. These products come into the country through private companies in Panama and Mexico.

“Even relatively new Dodge Caravans can occasionally be seen on the streets of Havana. Some of the corporations doing business in the United States that also have offices in Havana are DHL Worldwide Express and Benetton.

“The real losers in this political game are the American companies that are prevented by the U.S. government from negotiating lucrative contracts with the Cuban government for trade and commerce. Increased foreign investment into the country can only lead to widespread economic and social change.

“The recent vote in the United Nations (167-3) condemning the U.S. sanctions against Cuba prove that the U.S. government does not receive worldwide support.

“As a man from the United Kingdom expressed it, “It is America that is in the darkness . . . While Cuba is economically blockaded, America is morally blockaded and out of step with the rest of the world.”

Dawn Pisturino, RN

Member of U.S. Delegation to Cuba,

November 10-14, 2000

Copyright 2000-2015 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Published in the Kingman Daily Miner on December 1, 2000

Published in The Standard on November 29, 2000 

Published in New Unionist, January 2001 issue

Senators who responded to my letter:

Senator Jesse Helms and Senator Jon Kyl

Closing Thoughts: Other countries have been doing business with Cuba for decades. Obama’s push to ease sanctions may or may not benefit Cuba and the United States. As long as the Castro family remains in power, the possibility of democratization of Cuba seems remote.

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FDR’s Four Freedoms

The Four Freedoms

(click to enlarge)

January 6, 1941

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivers a speech which is now remembered as The Four Freedoms Speech. His goal? To involve the United States in World War II.

The Four Freedoms

1. Freedom of speech, which is protected by the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, has been a fundamental right of all American citizens since the thirteen colonies broke away from British domination and established a new country: the United States of America.

2. Freedom of worship, which is also protected by the First Amendment, found its precedent in our Puritan forefathers, who left Europe for the New World in search of religious tolerance and liberty of conscience.

3. Freedom from want, which is the most controversial component of his speech, proposes that economic opportunity, employment, social security, and adequate healthcare are fundamental human rights. Although these conditions are not guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, the battle over what constitutes a basic human right rages on, seventy-three years later. Roosevelt proposed these concepts as an incentive to fight against Hitler’s aggression in Europe, arguing that all people across the world are entitled to these basic human needs. President Obama and members of the Democratic Party use these arguments as an excuse to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens while ignoring the fundamental rights of American-born citizens. Republicans traditionally view the social safety net set up by FDR as government overreach and a burden on taxpayers. Right or wrong depends on personal opinion.

4. Freedom from fear, which is also not guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, embraces the idea that all people are entitled to live in peace, free from the threat of outside aggression. Expanding this concept further, people would be entitled to live in peace without the threat of violence from internal sources, such as criminals, drug lords, terrorists, police, the military, family members, employers, and psychotic individuals.

How well has the United States fulfilled Roosevelt’s dream? Is it even practical? Can we really, as one nation, bring peace, prosperity, and equality to the whole world? Or is this obligation dragging us down as a nation?

Where do you stand in the public debate?

Dawn Pisturino

November 14, 2014

Copyright 2014 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Mayflower Descendants

John HowlandThose of us descended from Leonard Spencer and Grace Hambleton are “Mayflower Descendants” through Grace’s mother, Alma Jane Stiles. Alma was a direct descendant of John Howland, a Mayflower passenger and the thirteenth signer of the Mayflower Compact.

During the voyage from England, John narrowly escaped death when he fell overboard during a terrible storm. He grabbed onto a rope that was floating in the water and was pulled to safety.

Just think — if John Howland had drowned, none of his descendants would be here today!

John came to the New World as an indentured servant to John Carver, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony. When Governor Carver died, John Howland became a freeman. He acquired lands, married, and served the colony as selectman, assistant and deputy governor, surveyor of highways, and as a member of the fur committee.  He is still remembered as a founder of Plymouth Colony.

Famous descendants of John Howland include Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush; actors Alec Baldwin, Humphrey Bogart, and Christopher Lloyd; Governor Sarah Palin; writer Ralph Waldo Emerson; Mormon founder Joseph Smith; and Dr. Benjamin Spock — all our distant cousins.

HAVE A BLESSED AND PROSPEROUS THANKSGIVING!

Steve, Dawn, and Ariel Pisturino

Copyright 2013 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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WRITERS: MIND YOUR MANNERS!

weneedyoubadge1

A MESSAGE FROM JON BARD, MANAGING EDITOR OF CHILDREN’S BOOK INSIDER:

“If you spend a fair amount of time online, perhaps you’ve noticed it:

People are becoming ruder. And angrier. And more entitled.

Really, I’m simply amazed at some of what appears in my e-mail inbox. Folks with whom I’ve never corresponded are sending me demanding messages such as “SEND ME THE EBOOK!!!!” and “I WANT TO GET PUBLISHED. TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”

People (non-customers) send us long, detailed questions out of the blue and expect immediate responses. If they don’t get one, we often receive an abusive message as a follow up.

And then there’s the magic words that many people seem to be using as a justification for curt, nicety-free missives:
“Sent via my iPhone.”

Look, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve got a pretty thick skin. So I raise this not to prevent my feelings from being hurt, but rather as a cautionary message about how *not* to sabotage your writing career.

As a 21st century author, your ability to communicate is paramount to your success. Editors, agents, bloggers, book reviewers, distributors, promotional partners and readers are just some of the people who are important to your career. For goodness sake, treat them with more respect than “Here’s my new book. Write a review!”.

Here then, are my tips to help you be seen as a courteous author worthy of consideration:

• “Dear”, “Thank you”, “Please” and “Sincerely/All the Best/Yours Truly” aren’t archaic leftovers from the distant past. They’re still as important as ever. Use them. Please.

• Composing a message from your phone or tablet is not an excuse for overly-direct curtness. If you have a business message to send, wait until you have the time to write it properly.

• If you’re contacting someone for the first time, make the effort to introduce yourself, and clearly state the purpose of your message.

• If someone doesn’t get right back to you, don’t fire off an angry e-mail accusing them of ignoring you. Perhaps the message got lost. Maybe they’re on vacation. Perhaps they’re ill. Calmly send another friendly message restating your request or comment.

• Remember that you’re dealing with human beings. In our case, every piece of e-mail is read either by me or by Laura. We don’t have a building full of underlings to take care of that for us. When you send us kind words (and many of you do — thank you!), it feels great. When you’re rude or angry, it stings. Treat me with respect — I think I’ve earned at least that.

The vast majority of you are nothing but gracious in your communications with us. That bodes well for your future success. Keep at it, and gently work to correct those who aren’t minding your manners.
For the few of you who may have let your etiquette slip, please take heed of the points I’ve laid out, and make a resolution to make the online world just a little bit more courteous.

That’s it — venting over! Onward….”

THANKS, JON!

Dawn Pisturino

 

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Right on, Bree Ogden!

this literary life

In 1912, Henry Gilbert released his epic novel, Robin Hood.

In 1922, released was the stunning Ulysses by James Joyce.

a_wrinkle_in_time_original_coverAldous Huxley published the ground breaking Brave New World in 1932.

Albert Camus brought us Existentialism with The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus in the year 1942.

1952, had us all crying over a spider with E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

A Winkle in Time, Something Wicked Comes This Way, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Clockwork Orange all blew our minds in 1962.

No one will ever love a book more than The Princess Bride which 1972 brought us.

Roald Dahl owned the year before I was born, 1982, with James and the Giant Peach and The BFG.

In 1992, The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey  by Ernesto “Che” Guevara had us rethinking our lives and the journey’s we have taken.

2002 had us evaluating family…

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Good writing comes first because no amount of marketing will salvage a poorly crafted book.

Writers In The Storm Blog

By Lyn Horner

I’m sure you’ve all heard this before but it bears repeating. When you publish an e-book, expect to spend as much time on marketing as you spend writing the next book, especially if you’re new on the publishing scene. In order to get the most from promotional efforts, it’s wise to pick and choose where you’ll invest your precious time. Today I’ll share some suggestions gleaned from two successful e-book authors.

Most writers have heard of John Locke, the New York Times Best Selling Author who was the first self-published author in history to sell one million Kindle books. Last year he published How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, a helpful guide I highly recommend. It reveals how the author built a loyal following of readers who promote his books for him. Before Mr. Locke explained his marketing system, he listed several…

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A Writer 24/7

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by Dawn Pisturino

Adopting the writer’s mantle places us instantly in the spotlight. Everything we say, write, and do is being evaluated and judged by people we don’t even know.

With this in mind, it’s important to display our best writing at every opportunity.

I recently read a blog post by an English writer that was poorly formatted, riddled with errors, and unprofessional-looking. The purpose of the blog was to dispense writing advice to budding young authors. But what can a young author learn from run-on sentences and words that blend into one another with no punctuation or spaces? Needless to say, I no longer follow that blog.

Many self-proclaimed authors haunt Facebook and other social media sites. They promote their books with quickly-composed, ungrammatical sales pitches that reflect poorly on their abilities as writers. My thought is this: if they can’t write a simple post on Facebook, how can they write the next Great American novel? The answer is obvious.

E-mail tends to be a casual form of communication, but some people take it for granted that it’s okay to write in texting jargon and incomplete sentences. Clear, concise communication should be even more important when writing e-mails. I check my grammar and spelling every time I send out an e-mail because I want my readers to see me as a real writer.

My elderly aunt in Michigan fills her hand-written letters with poetic descriptions of the seasons and countryside where she lives. She’s not a writer, but she knows how to write. She knows how to turn a phrase and color a description so that it sticks in my head. She makes me imagine that once upon a time she wrote poetry in some dark garrett. That reminds me–I need to ask her!

Writing is a 24/7 job. And everything we compose should reflect our abilities as a writer. Our readers expect it. Our profession demands it.

Published in the July-August 2012 issue of Working Writer.

Copyright 2012 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Happy Mother’s Day

Translation: “Mother’s Day: I only found an artichoke, but my heart’s in it!”

On May 12, 1907, Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia held a memorial service for her departed mother in Grafton, West Virginia.  This simple act of devotion started a trend that spread to every state in the nation.

The second Sunday in May was declared a federal holiday—Mother’s Day— by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.

It became customary to wear a red or pink carnation to honor living mothers and a white carnation to honor the deceased.

The greeting card companies seized on this opportunity to promote sending flowers, cards, and gifts. In her later years, Anna Jarvis resented the commercialization of Mother’s Day and lobbied to abolish the holiday.

Whether we honor our mothers with store-purchased items or handmade goodies, the idea behind Mother’s Day is still valid. My mother worked hard all of her life. She was unhappy and stressed out much of the time. But she tried her best to love us, protect us, and give us what we needed.

One of my fondest memories is a rainy night in 1965. The school chorus was giving a concert, and the streets in L.A. were flooded. I was afraid that my mother wouldn’t be able to attend our performance. But somehow, someway, she made it, and I always remembered that. Her efforts let me know how much she cared. 

She’s gone now, and I miss her, but she suffered from chronic pain and a severe heart condition. Death brought her relief. And I try to remember that even as I wish she were here.

HONOR THE ONES YOU LOVE EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR. I wish now that I had done more for her.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, EVERYONE!

Dawn Pisturino

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