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DOWNSIZED

Living THE MAGAZINE FOR THE NEW AMERICA

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Vol. 1, No. 3 • Spring 2012

ANTI-IM MI G RAT I O N TA X A NG E R S LATINOS (A N D EVERYO NE E L S E )

D I N I N G Cooked Leather ROMA N C E Online Weddings ED UCAT I O N Eliminating the Minimum Wage May Reduce High School Dropout Rate


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The weak recovery that still leaves so many people in financial distress informs “Cooked Leather,” “Vicarious Living” and “Online Weddings.” As economist Robert Reich pointed out in a recent blog post, most of the gains in the recovery are going to the very wealthy, and the economy is still weak because too many people have no money to spend.

hoever thought national decline could be this funny? Even though it is too soon to know whether the decline in the level of our political dialogue is temporary or long-lasting, when it comes to some of the absurdities pronounced by members of the far right, it’s possible to say at least one thing — they don’t lack for creative ideas. If only those ideas made any sense. There is Karl Rove’s group American Crossroads claiming that President Obama is a Russian double agent; the Wyoming legislature’s proposal to raise an army and get an aircraft carrier just in case the economy really gets bad; and Newt Gingrich’s assertion that no bureaucrat would have invented beach volleyball.

Power goes to two poles: to those who’ve got money and those who’ve got people.

It is disturbing that we can’t get ourselves out of this malaise because some of our leaders are so nutty, they could moonlight as standup comedians. So can we work our way back to sanity, greater economic equality and compassion in America? Yes, but it will require a mobilization on a massive scale. Occupy Wall Street is a great start, as is Common Cause’s drive to overturn Citizens United.

Declarations such as these are the inspiration for two of the articles in this quarter’s issue. In “AntiImmigration Tax Angers Latinos (and Everyone Else), Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s misinterpretation of a reporter’s question leads her to propose a tax on Latinos as a means of controlling immigration. Michele Bachmann’s conviction that the minimum wage is an impediment to full employment animates “Eliminating the Minimum Wage May Reduce High School Dropout Rate.”

There is opportunity to participate in these causes on Downsized Living’s revamped Facebook page. Besides recession jokes and funny protest signs, you will also find links to informative articles on topics of interest to progressives, as well as petitions to sign. As activist Saul Alinsky once said, “Power goes to two poles: to those who’ve got money and those who’ve got people.” We have more than enough people. We just need to take sustained, nonviolent action.

– Blair Adams 2


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Volume 1, Number 3 • Spring 2012

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COOKED LEATHER: IT’S THE NEW BEEF

ANTI-IMMIGRATION TAX ANGERS LATINOS

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ELIMINATING THE MINIMUM WAGE MAY REDUCE HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT RATE

ONLINE WEDDINGS

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THE VICARIOUS LIVING NETWORK

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©2012 Downsized Living. All Rights Reserved


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gorgeous shoes popping up in all my favorite shops. The Jimmy Choos and the Pradas are beautiful, but totally impractical. With wholesale meat prices getting so out of hand for us at the restaurant, I bought a few pairs of gently worn Louboutins at the local resale store and gave them to Brianna to work her culinary magic on.”

C O O K E D L E AT H E R : IT’S THE NEW BEEF by Liz McDonald

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Josie and Brianna put together several savory shoebased recipes that immediately appealed to the Portland crowd. Within weeks, they started to see variations on their shoe-leather recipes popping up in restaurants as far east as New York City.

n the last year, food editors, restaurant owners and home cooks alike have been revisiting the idea of shoe leather as a lowcost, but tasty substitute for meat. Ever since Charlie Chaplin famously ate his shoe in the film The Gold Rush, the idea of shoe leather as a viable meat alternative has existed in the American collective consciousness.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Josie was not only business savvy, she was wellversed in the chemistry of cooking. Together, the two women decided to “create a space where everyone, no matter how much money they have in their pockets, can come and enjoy a nutritious, delicious and satisfying meal.” Their signature shoe leather dishes only came about after a serendipitous shopping spree that Josie made about six months after they opened the café. Up until that point, the two had been struggling to pay the bills and thought they would have to close the restaurant. Economic downturns always lead to a glut of designer clothing turning up in consignment stores as people look for ways to raise cash, a trend that delights habitual consignment shoppers like Josie. “I am a hard-core consignment shopper,” she confessed. “And I started to notice these buttery soft,

Josie and Brianna French’s shoe leather recipes have become very popular with budget-conscious diners.

The abundance of consigned designer shoes has also been a huge break for food pantries across the country that have had to balance budget cuts with the growing population of newly poor people in need of assistance. Many of Josie and Brianna’s recipes can also be made at home, though they do require a certain amount of work. “Shoe leather requires a robust (continued next page) 4

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In 2010, Josie French, 48, a former United States Army cook, and her daughter Brianna, 21, were the first to offer shoe leather instead of meat when they pooled their savings and opened the Sole Food Café in Portland, Oregon.


COOKED LEATHER, continued the leather can also be pressure cooked and shredded to create the Cuban dish Ropa Vieja, or you can simply pull it apart, and throw it into a taco.”

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marinade,” cautions Brianna. “Master the marinade, and you have a shoe-based protein that can hold its own with grilled flank steak any day of the week. If you don’t have time for the marinating process,

Sole Food Cafe Grilled Boot Leather and Marinade

Ropa Vieja

SOLE FOOD CAFÉ GRILLED BOOT LEATHER AND MARINADE

ROPA VIEJA (OLD CLOTHES) 1 pair men’s designer shoes without decorative stitching 5 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 /2 cup tomato sauce 2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic 1 large onion, diced 1 green pepper, diced 1 /4 teaspoon black pepper 1 cup of water 1 bay leaf 6 ounces sofrito (found in the ethnic foods aisle of any major supermarket)

1 lime 1 /2 cup vegetable oil 1 /3 cup soy sauce 14.5 oz. can stewed tomatoes 1 /4 cup red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 /2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 pair of women’s designer boots 1. Using needle-nose pliers and a small vice, carefully separate the sole from the rest of the boot, being careful to discard any decorative embellishments, grommets or laces. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the boot and set aside. 2. In a medium bowl, mix the oil, soy sauce, tomatoes, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic and ground black pepper. Place boots in a shallow glass dish. Pour marinade over them, turning to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours. 3. Preheat grill to medium-high. 4. Oil the grill grate. Place boot on the grill, and discard the marinade. Grill for 10 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. Remove from grill, tent with tin foil for 5 more minutes, and then serve. Makes 4 servings

1. Place shoes in a 2-quart pressure cooker with 4 cups of water, and the bay leaf. Bring to pressure and cook for 30 minutes. 2. Remove from heat and decompress. Allow shoes to cool thoroughly before attempting to remove the leather from the soles. Carefully check shoe leather for grommets, shoe nails or stray stitching. 3. Pull the cleaned, cooked leather apart with forks. 4. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in skillet and add shredded shoe leather. Add remaining oil to skillet, stir in garlic, onion and green pepper and cook until translucent. 5. Stir in black pepper, tomato sauce, water and sofrito. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Serve with white rice. Makes 4 servings

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©2012 Downsized Living. All Rights Reserved


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ANTI-IMMIGRATION TAX ANGERS LATINOS

Reporters were stunned. “You support attacks on Latinos?” asked Jim Kilkenny of the Associated Press. She said, “Yes, as you know, I’m against taxes on the wealthy and most things in general. But a tax on Latinos, who incidentally vote in small numbers compared to their demographics, especially when we put up these roadblocks to make it difficult for them to do so and hence yield political power? Absolutely!”

by Stan Sinberg

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he recent outrage over Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s proposed tax on Latinos, despite having come about as a misunderstanding, has, to the shock of most Americans, gained traction with the Tea Party in Congress. The tax potentially threatens Latinos, already struggling in this recession, with further financial hardship.

President Felipe Calderón of Mexico even called for all the smog in Mexico City to be blown across the border to Arizona.

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In spite of the sheer mean-spiritedness of the proposal, the idea of an anti-immigration tax has turned out to be a huge forehead-slapper for the Tea Party and other far-right Republicans. Although most Republicans forbid even mention of the word “tax,” the notion that they could use a tax at all to further some of their goals has been a revelation, even to such conservative stalwarts as Karl Rove. “As you know, if you want less of something, you tax it, so I am fully in favor of a tax on Latinos in order to reduce immigration,” said Mr. Rove, who also supports Tea Party proposals that would tax the poor to reduce poverty and tax women to reduce the number of abortions. But it is the tax on Latinos that has drawn the most ire and has alienated the very group Republicans have been trying to court.

Victor Gomez thinks that Governor Brewer’s remark was offensive, but too way-out to be taken seriously.

The now-famous uproar started at a press conference when Governor Brewer was asked what she thought of a reported increase in attacks on Latinos in her state. “I never heard about that until this moment,” she replied. “But now that you mention it, I support it!” 6

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ANTI-IMMIGRATION TAX, continued However, the fact that the Tea Party has not specified how the tax would be levied is telling to some. Victor Gomez, head of the Arizona chapter of the Democratic Party, said, “Yes, it was, and is, racist and outrageous to target any one particular group that way. But then again, Newt Gingrich proposed that elementary school children work as janitors in order to learn good work habits, and Michelle Bachmann said that unemployment would be wiped out if we eliminated the minimum wage. I just tune out that kind of nonsense.”

We’ve learned a valuable lesson: From now on, we have nothing to say to each other.

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Governor Jan Brewer at her ill-fated press conference in March.

Even so, the governor’s office was immediately flooded with petitions and calls for her resignation from President Obama and millions of Americans of all political stripes. Protests have erupted in cities across the country, and President Felipe Calderón of Mexico even called for all the smog in Mexico City to be blown across the border to Arizona.

The embattled Governor Brewer and leaders of the Latino community then issued a joint statement: “While we still dislike and resent each other immensely, we now realize that we were talking about two completely different things. The fact that we could almost come to blows over this shows the dangers of miscommunication. We’ve learned a valuable lesson: From now on, we have nothing to say to each other.”

To calm the firestorm, Governor Brewer met with protesters and members of the Latino community at a town hall meeting in Phoenix. Governor Brewer argued that the press had twisted her words and agreed to work with community leaders on urging Tea Party members to drop the idea of an anti-immigration tax.

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©2012 Downsized Living. All Rights Reserved


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E L I M I N AT I N G T H E MINIMUM WAGE MAY REDUCE HIGH SCHOOL D R O P O U T R AT E BigStockPhoto

by Liz McDonald

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his March, a groundbreaking paper published by the Tickner Center for Business and Public Policy demonstrated a compelling link between the minimum wage and its power to shape the future of young workers.

Dr. Michele Sanrichmann at her office in Dayton, Ohio.

the minimum wage would lead to lower dropout rates. “What we need in the 21st century are bold new ideas to create a highly educated workforce, and I think we have found the answer,” she said.

Dr. Michele B. Sanrichmann presented her paper at a recent GOP fundraiser for Mitt Romney. “We believe that the minimum wage is a siren song, if you will, that leads many high school students astray by enticing them into the workforce and away from higher education. Eliminating it would greatly reduce this incentive,” she announced.

Following the Limbaugh appearance, Dr. Sanrichmann’s theory gained traction among conservative policymakers, politicians and voters. “Before Dr. Sanrichmann’s paper, there had never been an argument against the minimum wage that liberal Democrats wouldn’t lose their minds over,” said Harry Puffler, campaign advisor to John Raese, who is running for the Senate in West Virginia. “Finally, we can say to the opposition, ‘Look, here is how the minimum wage hurts young people: It causes them to drop out of school.’ Abolishing the minimum wage is an easy policy change that would strike at the heart of the high school dropout problem.”

What we need in the 21st century are bold new ideas to create a highly educated workforce, and I think we have found the answer.

“Moreover, the minimum wage should be heavily debated as we move through the 2012 election,” continued Mr. Puffler. “And I think it’s a subject that both sides of the aisle can agree on. Who can find fault with a policy change that promises a stronger economy and delivers a better-educated workforce? It’s a win-win situation.”

Dr. Sanrichmann’s speech immediately went viral on the Internet and lead to a whirlwind of speaking engagements and interviews, most notably her recent appearance on the Rush Limbaugh show last September. There she expanded on her hypothesis that the abolition of 8


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ONLINE WEDDINGS

And what about the guests? “Our relatives and loved ones ‘attended’ over the Internet,” Desmond added. “And considering how her family and my family get along, it was better! Much better, let me tell you!”

by Stan Sinberg

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he old song, “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out” may be going by the wayside, thanks to the newest wrinkle on the marriage ceremony — online weddings! By simply substituting a virtual hall for a real one and having guests attend via avatars instead of in person, couples are finding out they can save 95 percent of the cost of a traditional wedding and eliminate 98 percent of the headaches. Weddings can cost anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and at an average price of $25–$40, online weddings make a lot more sense in recessionary times. And you don’t have to sacrifice your fairy-tale dreams.

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“It was the big wedding I always dreamed of,” said 32-year-old Margie Thomas. “I had just about given up hope of ever ‘legitimizing’ our relationship, with me being unemployed and all, but then my mother told me about people getting married over the Internet. I figure she gave up on me ever walking down the aisle, so she said a ‘virtual aisle’ was better than nothing. And it was just like I always pictured it — the fancy gown, the grand hall, the jealous relatives, the wait staff — except that it all took place in a virtual environment, and Desmond and I were sitting in front of our computer in our skivvies.”

Margie and Desmond Thomas show that a dream wedding doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

While traditional weddings can take about a year to plan, with websites like Virtual Weddings (www.virtualweddings.com) and Dream Weddings (www.dreamweddings.com), it’s possible to put together an online affair “faster than you can pile into a pickup truck and elope in Las Vegas,” as 22-year-old Sally Hennysen put it.

Even so, Margie and Desmond received beautiful photos of themselves in their wedding finest — she in a designer gown and he in a smart tuxedo. The images were created by sending in digital photos of themselves that were cropped and pasted into the background using Photoshop. 9

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ONLINE WEDDINGS, continued

Instead of asking for money, their project was a furnished house in which they listed rugs, sofas and giant-screen TVs they wanted, plus a down payment on a home.

Which was something Sally was considering doing when she learned she was pregnant. “My daddy would’ve killed me if I was ‘showing’ in a wedding gown, so I figured we had no choice but to elope,” she said.

Christie sniffed, “I just didn’t want to deprive those folks who love us from giving us a nice wedding present just because we didn’t invite them to attend physically.”

Then Sally learned about online weddings. A few tweets, emails and texts later, the invitations were taken care of, and a week later, the guests got to view the ceremony via webcam with a still “bump-less” bride.

It’s much better to propose in person than by text message or Twitter. I learned that the hard way.

“It’s much better to propose in person than by text message or Twitter,” said Wayne Porridge of Dream Weddings. “I learned that the hard way.” Also, lawyers recommend shelling out a few bucks for an actual live, licensed person to conduct the ceremony, instead of an avatar. It’s worth the extra cost to dispense with all those testy “Are we really married?” questions that will linger long after the ceremony, or that an attorney might bring up during divorce proceedings, should the couple ever go down that route.

Still, even the most “virtual” of all weddings needs some live components.

“My parents had no idea,” Sally laughed. And the newlyweds still get to receive all their friends’ best wishes, thanks to Twedder, the instantmessaging service that allows guests to send congratulatory “tweds” to their cell phones with “wedding-specific” images of champagne bottles popping, fireworks exploding, rockets blasting off and other not-very-subtle wedding night suggestions.

Also, experts say, the “wedding night” should definitely be carried out live. “We couldn’t have gotten hitched without the Internet,” gushed Christie Jenkins. “But it can’t do everything.”

Couples don’t have to forego the traditional “receiving lots of wedding presents” part either. Chris and Christie Jenkins, both 25, decided to tie the knot online, but set up a Kickstarter project.

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E You may say, “Excuse me. I’ve been watching Entertainment Tonight for years, spent two days watching the last royal wedding and follow Kim Kardashian’s every move. I’m already living vicariously!” And indeed, to some extent, you may be.

THE VICARIOUS LIVING NETWORK by Stan Sinberg

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f you’ve lost your job, your home, your sense of direction and are no longer “living the dream,” don’t worry. Now you can live somebody else’s dream. That’s the magic of the Vicarious Living Network.

This could be you! Check out the Vicarious Living Network!

Everyone I know used to tell me, ‘Get a life.’ Then I discovered VLN, and now I tell them, ‘I have a life. Not mine, but so what?’

And don’t think that vicarious living is only for those with empty, shallow, drab lives looking for an escape. You might be a rabid follower of Jersey Shore and Housewives of Atlanta and are living reverse vicarious living. That is, following people who are lower than you on the evolutionary scale, which, let’s face it, you like because it affirms that intelligence (yours) and material success (theirs) in this country are totally unrelated.

Thanks to the revolutionary POV “Vicari-cam”— a small camera worn like a pair of eyeglasses — you have the same exact perspective as the person wearing the camera. Tired of wistfully gazing in the windows of fancy restaurants while you’re rummaging through the trash can outside? Now you will see the environs, watch the obsequious bell captain and the waiter fawn over “you,” observe the plate in front of you and feel the anticipation as the filet mignon approaches your mouth. You’ll have all the sensation and excitement of being in one of the world’s most exclusive restaurants — except for tasting the food!

But the Vicarious Living Network takes things to a whole new level. It is the only network that lets you live through others 24 hours a day. Before long, you’ll forget your own identity entirely! Gertie Champignon, a typical VLN subscriber, put it this way: “Everybody I know used to tell me, ‘Get a life.’ Then I discovered VLN, and now I tell them, ‘I have a life. Not mine, but so what?’ In fact, recently some jerk told me, ‘Get a life,’ and I answered, ‘OK. Whose?’ That really set him on his heels.”

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On VLN, you’ll feel what it’s like to dine in some of the world’s finest restaurants, shop in the trendiest Beverly Hills boutiques, embark on the most dangerous adventures and be in bed with the most glamorous celebrities — all without leaving the comfort of your car, tent or motel room.

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VICARIOUS LIVING NETWORK, continued

As the saying goes, to truly know people you have to walk a mile in their shoes. But really — who wants to do that? They don’t fit! You end up with smelly feet, cribbed toes and being mocked in the fashion pages. Not to mention the logistics of getting the shoes and walking on their terrain. But thanks to VLN, you can now virtually walk a mile in the shoes of thousands of people — models, movie stars, sports heroes, CEOs, even just normal middle-class people — the kind you used to be. And you know what? After living as a supermodel or hedge-fund manager, you might decide you wouldn’t want their lives anyway.

VLN recently added another new, exciting addition to its roster: They Tube. Similar to that other “tube,” They Tube features all-point-of-view videos, so you can see what the videographer sees. That allows you to check out the surroundings of those you are following, including the most exclusive nightclubs, parties and vacation spots in the world.

Thanks to VLN, you can now virtually walk a mile in the shoes of thousands of people – models, movie stars, sports heroes, CEOs, even just normal middle-class people.

But that’s just an added benefit of the Vicarious Living Network — the chance to discover that the life you like living is actually your own.

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Downsized Living Spring 2012  

The Spring 2012 issue of Downsized Living Magazine

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