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- Understanding Finance
Are We Smarter Than A Chicken?
It occurs to me that we are a lot like birds these days. Fowls have a lot to worry about when it comes to someone robbing the hen house, and so do humans when it comes to someone robbing their nest eggs.
The problem with humans though is, while we pride ourselves on being the highest mammal in terms of pecking order, the bird brains know some basic things we can't seem to get right. You see, they know who their real predators are, while we invite the financial foxes of the world right in our hen houses.
Never Underestimate A Chicken
For those of you who didn't spend a lifetime, communing up close and personal with feathered friends, you may be misinformed about the intelligence of birds. You may be also have been led astray about how complex their lives are, from the moment of birth.
Before I point out in detail why the chicken might be the smarter of us, let's take a closer look at what you might not know about chickens -- and why their world applies to our current financial crisis.
First You Need To Understand and Speak A Secret Language
The majority of the human population doesn't know that chickens can talk and that they have a rich vocabulary, despite the fact that it is short on words. Their approximately thirty word known lexus is far more precise in definition, and completely common knowledge among those with feathers -- than our financial literacy in our language.
Whereas, the average English speaking human's twenty thousand word vocabulary is not always clear-cut, and is also not always commonly understood or communicated properly. There's a lot of double-speak among us.
Furthermore, among a chicken's many alarm vocalizations, they are able to convey not only the type of predator approaching, but also whether it is arriving on foot, by air, or by water. Unlike them, the enemy can be one of our very own, and very often we don't know it's got us until it's too late.
Our feathered friends always know when a fox-like predator is in their hen house. We humans, might have lost that ability, because we over-think or under-think our dangers. We allow ourselves to believe that someone else has solved a problem, acted in our best interests, and that we don't have to worry (because somebody else has bailed us out).
If you were a chicken, here are ten examples of what you would succinctly know how to say:
- From the day before your birth the word "Peep" -- You'd peep continuously to let your mother and siblings know your birthday has arrived. This lets mom you are OK, so that she doesn't freak out when you break your nest egg. Just like a great big hug, mom will stay there on the nest as long as you keep peeping until you get out of your shell.
- Mutual Post Birth Peeps and Clucks -- Since your birthday is a multiple birth event of sometimes huge proportion, you and your mom would peep and cluck back and forth as you explore your new world. Just like a human mother hen, your mom would know from the poignant timbre of your peep how scared you were, or if you were feeling lost. She would be also listening closely by counting how many times you peeped for signs that you may be in trouble. Her clucks would both reassure you and help you keep track of how far away she was, or if she spotted danger.
- Bedtime clucks -- If you were still a young chick, your mother hen would have a special bedtime cluck that would let you know when it was time to come in from the coop's play yard and give life a rest. Unlike your human counter-part, you'd not be trying to get by with staying up after hours, as you instinctively would know to do that, could result in your untimely death.
- Nesting clucks -- Women and hens have their own language when calling or inviting their mates to join them in finding a place to nest. The difference maybe between us, is that the real life rooster always helps her find and create the perfect nest. Side-by-side, they dig an impression in the ground with their beaks and feet. Then, they pull and toss around twigs, feathers, hay, leaves, and earth. Not all human roosters are quite so into the language of nesting instincts.
- Ancient touchy snarls and tender reassuring hen squawks -- Not to be left out in the nesting search, when the rooster thinks he's found the perfect place to start a home, he guards it, by sitting on it. Then he rocks from side-to-side, as he turns in a slow circle, pleading with touchy snarls to his hen, that we are "home at last." In the world of fowl, the hen always has the last say in such monumental decisions. She's wise enough to let her rooster know though, that she appreciates his efforts by making short and tender reassuring hen squawks with her beak open -- that are as subtle as the Chinese language in terms of meaning, when the tone drops to a lesser intensity.
- "The I've Laid An Egg Cackle" -- With this cackle-announcement, the rooster comes to inspect, and give her a congratulatory escort back to the rest of his harem.
- The Lonely Squawk -- The best of hens will give the lonely and loud squawk, if her rooster is absent too long, that will send the most absent-minded of males rushing to her side to see what is wrong.
- The Rooster's Come and Get It Clucks -- This series of small short selective clucks tell the hen that papa has dinner ready.
- The Rooster's Chicken Hawk Whistle -- With one eye always alert to shadows overhead, the rooster will whistle, or even make a sort of growling sound to indicate a hawk or owl is on the prowl.
- The Dessert's Here Cheer!-- Feed chickens supplemental corn or other delights long enough, and you'll soon discover they have a certain pattern and call to each other, when one of them spots you approaching.
Chickens Are Good At Problem Solving
In our currently tumultuous financial times, we might not be practicing good problem solving. Chickens are good at problem solving. They make it their business to know the score and act accordingly.
- When to run for shelter
- When to fly high
- When to roost in the trees instead of the hen house
- How slowly and persistently pecking gets results
- When the fox (raccoon or opossum) is in the hen house, and take appropriate measures
- That an object when taken away and concealed, still exists
- When to gather as a flock for the common good
- When to separate as a flock for the common good
- They have rich social groups, that accept that there is pecking order, because everyone has their role, and is valued among the flock
- That patience is the key -- if you are going to hatch a good egg, you've got to both know how not to smash the egg when you sit on it; and how long you'll need to sit
- How to sacrifice for the "long term" -- watch any mother hen sitting on a nest, giving up her freedoms for the future
- That no matter how hard you try, life is certain in that predator attacks, will happen from time to time
- Who are their friends -- they can recognize hundreds of other chickens, and remember each of their faces
- Who are their enemies -- they not only recognize them, but their methods of kill and how to evade capture
- The need for oversight -- they have both rooster, older hens, and their human friends and each other to watch their feathers
Who Is Minding Our Hen House?
Weeks ago our lawmakers in a desperate need to look like they were doing something to restore consumer confidence, approved the U.S. Treasury's weighty bailout of banking institutions and financial firms.
On the surface, they made a big deal about the "safeguards" built into this legislation for minding our financial hen house. Yet, in reality, there is still little oversight in how all this money that is being handed out, is accounted for.
What good is a Financial Oversight Board of five members with no staff, and no accountability for themselves, and what are they going to do for those of us picking up the tab?
Even more troubling is that the banking institutions who got the bailout have already spent over $32.4 million lobbying the federal government earlier this year.
Not only have they not said they won't continue to spend millions on lobbying the federal government (millions of our dollars), but isn't this a repeat of history?
Isn't this exactly what happened with taxpayer dollars in the whole AIG debacle of government backed loans -- didn't we learn anything when they continued to use our money to lobby our government?
The world is watching, supposedly Washington is watching -- Yet, they who helped get us in this mess in the first place, have little accountability, and need to have their feet held to the fire.
Now There Is A Long Line to Get In the Hen House
At the head of the line for the next bailout, seems to be the big three in the auto industry. Why not, it worked for the mortgage lenders, AIG, and the banks?
There's a trickle down effect, various headlines now read: States, county governments, and mayors are lobbying and demanding for assistance. There's talk of a new economic stimulus package -- Remember the last one that didn't do much to stimulate the economy, since most people needed it to hold off foreclosures and debt collectors.
Just makes you wonder who is going to bail us out, when we have to pay for all of this -- when jobs and companies are disappearing daily, and retirement savings and stocks we once counted on, are all but gone?
Martina Navratilova Said It Best
"The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. the chicken is involved; the pig is committed." ~ Martina Navratilova
Those who have been given the power to make decisions on how best to solve our nation's current financial crisis are involved up to their proverbial eyeballs, but we (and future generations) are committed to pay the price.
Who Has Us By the Neck?
Where Does the Bulk of the Chicken Feed Go To?
We became a world power after World War I, solely because we owned the debt of other countries. Some countries, like the U.K. declined during the same period of time, because of how much debt they owed other countries.
Think of debt to a foreign country, being like owing the chicken thieves, who in the middle of the night, rob the hen house of it's future eggs. The amount of debt we owe other countries is in part, why we are in the financial shape we are in today.
If you were to ask the average American, if we owe debt to foreign countries, and how much -- First, they'll look at you like you have grown two heads, because they aren't aware that we owe any money to other countries. Why? We are the richest people on the planet to hear the most patriotic of our people tell the mythical tale. The concept of how much we currently owe to foreign government and investors, is beyond the average American's comprehension. We owe a staggering near $3 trillion to other countries, that continues to grow everyday!
Here are just some of the facts about some of who we (the taxpayer) owe:
- Brazil $146 billion
- Caribbean Banking Centers $148 billion (Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, and British Virgin Islands)
- China $542 billion
- Japan $585.9 billion
- OPEC Nations $180 billion(Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Venezuela)
- United Kingdom $308 billion
If we can't take care of ourselves, how are we going to take care of this debt and the interest, that it continues to accrue?
Furthermore, how does our relationship with our creditors and the rest of the world change, when we owe them? What kind of position does that put us in, at the bargaining table during world conflicts?
In the world of chickens, I doubt any chicken would have placed their flock in danger like this, by making themselves so vulnerable. I don't know about everyone else, but I find it troubling that we would owe debt to countries in which we have political problems brewing or escalating, and countries with doubtful leaders in charge.
Now Who Is The Bird Brain?
Maybe some in power are counting on the fact that the majority of us are not smarter than a chicken? Maybe they figure we're a bunch of bird brains who won't figure it out until every nest egg is gone? In thinking on all of this, I can't help but be reminded about the old ye haw Texas euphemisms, old President Lyndon Baines Johnson used to pull out of his ten gallon word hat:
First you heard him say:
"Boys, I may not know much, but I know chicken shit from chicken salad."
Later, you heard him say:
"Son, in politics you've got to learn that overnight chicken shit can turn to chicken salad."
I don't know who, or how, but someone better be making a big batch of chicken salad up in a hurry -- if we're going to get back on the right path, and stop worrying about shoveling chicken shit.