Friday, June 24, 2005

Seize this!

The first week we met each other, my wife and I were delighted to learn a fun fact about each other's family history that made us feel fated.

During the time of the Bolshevik Revolution and shortly thereafter, her great-grandfather was a Kulak, a relatively prosperous Russian peasant with his own farmland. Mine was the teenage son of a Kulak. (Those of you who didn't have this history drummed into your heads as children may wish to consult this timeline of Soviet history. What they did when the handwriting was on the wall and Stalin was fixing to come for their land was held up as an act of heroism by both of our families. Both of them plowed salt into their fields to make them useless to grow things in for quite some time. (My great-grandfather assisted his father.) My great-grandfather was able to get to New York City before the shit got too thick. He moved to the Midwest and married the daughter of a Hungarian immigrant, and then one of their sons married an Irish-Scottish woman. Hers was shipped to the Siberian gulag and later became what they called a "free settler" of Siberia. That basically translates to "We need somebody to make this iceberg worth something and we sure as hell don't want you in any city where you can have an influence, so why don't you see what you can do here? Or else we can kill you. Your pick."

So knowing that we have had respect for property rights drilled into us from a very early age, and knowing that we are congenitally libertarian, perhaps you can appreciate why the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London upset us. I sort of understand the idea of eminent domain. Sometimes the interests of the few and the many conflict, and everyone is better off if the many wins. (L'Ailee has somewhat more trouble with this concept.) But Kelo goes way beyond seizure of private property for everyone's use. Supposedly a government can take the property for "local economic development." But how the hell does it benefit the local economy to force out long-standing homeowners and replace them with a mall full of national/international chain stores that pay their workers piss-poor wages that they can't raise a family on and divert local money to CEOs elsewhere?!?! Not to mention services the poor and working-class people whose economy is supposedly being built up can't fucking afford?!?! Could it be that they're just hoping poor and working-class people flee into the woods, never to be heard from again, like so many rats?

Wow, excuse me. That felt better.

Anyway, I think Justice O'Connor's right. For once, I agree with JusticesScalia, Thomas, and Rehnquist.

And to Susette and Tim Kelo, a big bag of salt. Thank you for standing your ground. I hope your fellow citizens who can afford the mall avoid it, knowing the true cost of the goods and services to be sold there. I don't know how the modern-day Kulaks will stand up to the unholy confluence of big government and big corporations, but I can't wait to find out.


Qivan said...

So you both have Russian blood! Does your wife make Borscht? My husband and I argue about the recipe all the time, or maybe the Urkrainian version is different. He says it should be made with cream, I say it can be served with a dollop of sour cream on top, but is not made with cream according to all the Ukrainians my siblings have married.

CrackerLilo said...

We sure do, though hers is not nearly as diluted as mine. (A native Siberian grandmother sneaked in, though, to give her slightly almond-shaped eyes and hair that would look Asian if she let it grow.) My Russian blood may just be the reason we're together, because when we first met, she was impressed that I could read Cyrillic at all.

L'Ailee does make borscht when she's feeling domestic, which isn't often. She makes it in winter or when she has a craving. She approaches it the way I do chili--there are a few basic ingredients it always needs, but virtually anything you've got in the house can be thrown in. Cream does not belong in it, according to her. But there are no arguments because her version of borscht is a lot like the one I grew up with and neither of us particularly like creamy soups. Sour cream belongs on top of it. She thinks sour cream belongs on top of virtually everything, including *cringes* Thai or Chinese takeout if it's too spicy.

Blessed be!

Qivan said...

That's funny, I know Indians will add cream to dishes to take out some of the heat of the spices, so adding sour cream to Thai food isn't that bizarre when I think about it. I watch the Food Network all the time, even though I don't cook a whole lot, just find it interesting. But finally I found a real Russian to prove that Borscht shouldn't be made with cream. He's out of town, I won't see him until August.

CrackerLilo said...

Aw, that sucks! I hope you can last until August! :-)

And you gave me something to think about, too. I like Indian food, so I can make a mental connection to that instead of cringing.

Blessed be!

Petunia McGillicuddy said...

Not claiming expertise here, but when I was in St Petersburg and Moscow two years ago and had borscht there, it was served with an optional dollop of sour cream on the top, not mixed or cooked in.

Now, about the rest of your post, I LOVED it LOVED it LOVED it. I'm going to write a story called The Urban Three Little Pigs, and when I'm done I'll let you know, because I want to address the very thing you are talking about right here.