Cotton Candy On A Rainy Day Analysis Free Essay

Nikki Giovanni’s poem Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day depicts how one should see and live life. This literary work may appear to be simplistic in nature but its true meaning conveys a deep-rooted picture of the social and political conditions during the author’s time. It gives importance to examining oneself before one could try to understand the world outside. The author employed thought-provoking symbols to convey the message.

Nikki Giovanni, a world-renowned writer and activist from the Black Arts and the Civil Rights Movement, is famous for her works on the Black culture and women empowerment. Her works include Black Feeling, Black Talk (1968), Re: Creation (1970), Gemini: An Extended Autobiographical Statement of My First Twenty-Five Years of Being a Black Poet (1971), Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day (1978), and Blues: For all the Changes (1998). One of her earliest influences was her grandmother who infused to her how vital individual action is to initiate change whether it results to either losing or winning. Among her academic influences were a B.A. in History and graduate studies in both social work and fine arts.

Her poem Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day reflected social and political significances during the Civil Rights Movement. As early as the 1600’s, African Americans have undergone oppression and racial discrimination. And for the centuries that followed, they have voiced out their appeal for the recognition of their rights. The Civil Rights Movement in the United States lasted for twelve years from 1955 up to 1968.

1970’s was a period of revolution and change. It was marked by Martin Luther King’s assassination, riots in several cities across the United States, shootings at Orangeburg, and a number of demonstrations. These events have had inspired Giovanni in writing the poem.

What life is and how it should be lived is the main theme of Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day. Giovanni presented an interesting view of life by using metaphor as literary tool in her poem. Just like a cotton candy on a rainy day, life should be lived despite obstructions. Cotton candy is sweet and melts quickly, similar to life which is pleasant as the poet has noted. Rainy day, on the other hand, was used in the poem to pertain to loneliness. Just like a cotton candy on a rainy day, life, too, was sweet so it should go on even in the face of distress.

In the third verse Giovanni wrote, ‘I am not an easy woman to want.’ Here, the author writes as she feels, telling that what she does is not always agreeable to some people because of her autonomous tone. In the fourth verse, the era of 1970’s was marked by loneliness, she says. People during her time share the same feeling of disillusionment with regards to their efforts to attain social equity. This issue that they were raising has been the same issue raised by other African-Americans almost three centuries ago. Things seem to go out of hand, then. The transformation seemed to be far from reach.

People, at that time, may have felt exhausted and hopeless of their futile attempts as mentioned in the fifth verse. The verse says that unlike life, the feeling of loneliness does not persist. Giovanni continued to the sixth verse telling that life must go on. It happens that in certain points of our lives we pause for a while to let pass of the ambiguity that deter us from moving on. When the course gets clear, one team will move along while the other one stays. In which team should we belong? Giovanni suggests that we move on with our lives because we don’t know what is ahead of us.

            Rainy day was used in the poem as the metaphor of loneliness. It can also mean differently, it can be good or bad depending on who is going to view it. It can be a representation of a blessing which enhances the essence of life or a tragedy that ruins the form of life. The poem tells the readers that life is not something to be feared upon, but rather something to be cherished. We live only once and we should utilize it to the fullest.

            This literary work has touched the hearts of many. Those who read this poem may have felt like they were reading themselves. This is because most of the emotions we feel are also felt by others. Only, we differ with the way we deal with our emotions. Some will do something about while the others will just conform. In the end, our thoughts and actions will define us.

            Examining the picture that was imprinted on our minds by the poem, we see how the supporters and activists of the Civil Rights Movement have felt when their efforts appeared to be fruitless. After more than a decade of overwhelming display of mass action, the following years have not been completely welcoming for the African American appeal. Still, social policies and even the government have not yet fully addressed the needs of these people. How many more demonstrations and generations are needed before this will be realized? It is but natural for one to feel frustrated of this phenomenon. We see at present that several people feel this way. How can we deal with this? What lesson can we get from these repeated occurrences? Giovanni has provided an answer.

In the poem, both loneliness and life were presented the way it was felt by people during Giovanni’s time. Each one of us was given a chance to become an agent of change through our own little efforts, through our individual action.  We may never know what the outcome may be, but difficulties should not deter us completely with our toil.

It is truly a meaningful and solipsistic piece by Nikki Giovanni. Anyone could relate even though it carries with it the social context of the 1970’s. The beauty and essence of Giovanni’s work continue to inspire readers to go on living a meaningful life.

References:

Giovanni, N. (1978). Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day.   Retrieved May 18, 2009, from http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976851315

Argentina At The Abyss

            In 2006, Argentina still has a risk of defaulting in their financial commitments (insert pdf reference). Nevertheless, it also ranked highest on household consumption among South American nations. Nowadays, Argentina is undergoing economic progress. IMF negotiations are ongoing for the availability of credit, President Kirchner’s close ties with President Bush, keeping peace, democracy and stability and economic and political talks among the administration are among the current schemes for development (Noriega, 2004). Unemployment rates continue to decrease and economic growth continue to increase (insert pdf reference).

But before February 3, 2002, the Argentine peso had been pegged to the United States (US) dollar. For about 11 years, the exchange rate for the two currencies was kept 1:1 (Hanke and Schuler, 2002; insert pdf reference) when President Eduardo Duhalde created the “Convertibility Law” wherein an Argentine peso is equal to a US dollar. This was done to be able to control hyperinflation and to attract investors for economic development (Petras and Veltmeyer, 2002). The country was even praised for the liberalization of the currency despite its status as a third world country. Although it was implemented to able to attain economic growth and well-being, it became a double-edged scheme for Argentina.

            By year 2002, the currency was removed from its anchorage from the US dollar. Instead, it ran on a floating exchange rate regime. This decision both had advantages and disadvantages. For the advantages, the resulting value of the peso proved the overvaluation of the Argentine peso (Litterick, 2002). In addition, the commodities being exported are now becoming competitive because of the prices of the goods being adjusted to the real value of the Argentine peso, the goods were priced lower. Furthermore, there would not be a need for the disposal of the international reserves just to stabilize the exchange rate of the currencies. The reserve can be used for other expenditures of the government.

On the other hand, on the disadvantages side, because of the 1:1 exchange before, the people considered the two currencies as convertible. Thus, the removal of the peg from the US dollar made some deposits and contracts erratic (Hughes, 2002). Some account and deposits where in the other currency but the sudden change in the value made things worse. Depositors aren’t even allowed to withdraw at the normal rate, setting a 300 pesos limit on withdrawals at a weekly basis (Wallin, 2002). Also, the investors opted to invest on another place because of the instability of the economy. And, financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US Treasury were not willing to lend more money to Argentina until the fiscal deficits become stable. In addition, the value of the debt rose because of the lower value of the peso (insert pdf reference).

The Argentine peso’s value declined even before the implementation of the floating exchange rate regime. In fact, the Argentine government sold portions of its international reserves just to keep up with the exchange rate of the two currencies (“Argentina Plans to Use Reserves to Defend Peso’s Value vs. Dollar”, 2002). The president then, Eduardo Duhalde, promised the stability of the exchange rate due to the foreign reserves available for defending the peso. Nevertheless, citizens were not satisfied with this assurance causing several psychological disturbances (Wallin, 2002). The citizens were unsure of the financial status of the country and worried about their personal accounts. Several protests and demonstrations then were done by the citizens. Furthermore, because of the lack of currency reserves, the loan of Argentina defaulted (Insert pdf reference).

Also, the Convertibility law caused faults in the money supply and the exchange rate in itself. Because an Argentine peso can be easily exchanged for a US dollar, the reserves of Argentina did not hold a restriction on the amount of international reserves and caused a disturbance in the money supply in the country (Hanke and Schuler, 2002). Yet, there are still other factors that led to the floating exchange rate such as the fiscal crisis and decline in the investments still contributed to the decision of removing the dependence on the US dollar.

Growth did occur in Argentina due to the anchorage of their currency on the US dollar, however, not able to eliminate the fiscal deficits (Hughes, 2002). The government pursued asset sales and foreign capital to cover expenses. Most of the inflows, on the other hand, were used to purchase short-term government bonds. This then led to vigorous provinces that issued bonds at the expense of the federal government. Usually, the bonds that were being issued were in dollars that further increased the debt of the government. Not long after, the US dollar appreciated, thus, the Argentine peso became an overvalued currency. The anchor currency is appreciating but the Argentine peso retains its value causing a difficulty for the peso to keep up with the value of the dollar. The ever increasing debt of the country plus the decrease in global commodity prices leading to low revenues added to the economic burden of Argentina.

Recession, rising fiscal and external deficits and an overvalued currency was too hard to handle for Argentina in the late 1990s (Hughes, 2002; insert pdf reference). This led to massive unemployment rates and rising commodity prices. A lot of employees have been released by their employers removing the source of income of these workers. This led to families not being able to purchase goods for the basic needs of the members furthering to health and psychological problems (Lindsay, 2003). Most of the people resorted to trash scavenging as it is an easy answer to lack of resourced. It obviously had a drastic effect on the quality of life and the cost of living. Adding up the mishaps, it was announced that Argentina’s debt reached 130 billion US dollars (Hopkins, 2001).

References

“Argentina Plans to Use Reserves to Defend Peso’s Value vs. Dollar” (2002). Retrieved October 21, 2007, from http://www.people.umass.edu/nkapadia/FINOPMGT413/Argentina.pdf.

Hanke, S. and K. Schuler. (2002). What went wrong in Argentina? Central Banking Journal, 12, 43-48. Retrieved October 21, 2007 from Central Banking Publications, Ltd.

Hopkins, A. (2001). Default, Dollarization, or Knockout: Argentina Approaches the Abyss. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from http://www.worldpress.org/Americas/180.cfm.

Hughes, K. H. (2002). A Social Contract Abrogated: Argentina’s Economic Crisis. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from http://www.wilsoncenter.org/topics/pubs/boletin_01_social_contract.pdf.

Lindsay, R. (2003). Argentina Writhes in Depths of Deep Economic Abyss. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from http://www.post-gazette.com/World/20030309argentinaworld6p6.asp

Litterick, D. (2002). Argentina to Scrap Link With Dollar. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2002/01/16/cnarg16.xml.

Noriega, R. F. (2004). Argentina’s Current Economic and Political Situation. Retrieved October 22, 2007, from http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rls/rm/30360.htm.

Petras, J. and H. Veltmeyer. (2002). Argentina Between Disintegration and Revolution. Retrieved October 21, 2007, http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/South_America/Argentina_Disint_Revol.html.

Wallin, M. (2002). Angry Depositors in Argentina Take It Out on Their Bankers. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from http://www.people.umass.edu/nkapadia/FINOPMGT413/Argentina.pdf.

The Rise Of Bureaucratic Authoritarianism In Latin America: Argentina, Brazil And Chile

The Rise of Bureaucratic Authoritarianism in Latin America:

Argentina, Brazil and Chile

Economic Crisis

The populist policies with which the Latin American countries of Argentina, Chile and Brazil had been experimenting during the decades leading up to the 1960’s held apparent benefits for the robust working class population that they contained (O’Donnell). While the working class expanded to support the growing industrialization, workers enjoyed an increase in wage compensation, and with the increased nationalization of the countries’ industries and resources (even those owned by foreign-based investors), the governments were able to provide added benefits to the working class. During this time, the policies that encouraged industrialization relied heavily on the Import-Substitution model, in which tariffs were elevated in order to protect the local producers and manufacturers. Encouragement of the local industries meant increased overall industrialization, but this protection of the manufacturers also discouraged the move toward greater efficiency.

The government accorded further benefits to the populace in the shape of an overvalued currency that made imported goods cheaper for consumers to acquire (O’Donnell, 59). However, it would seem as though these countries were working against themselves and sabotaging their own policies in this area. While attempting to encourage production within the local market by levying tariffs to increase the relative price of imports, the policy of overvaluing exchange rates worked against this by making imports relatively cheap. This made consumers less likely to purchase domestic goods. Such policies also tied the hands of the local market by ensuring that the revenue collected from exporting these goods would be lower than desired. The discouragement of exports along with the encouragement of imports led to an imbalance of payments and increased foreign debt.

While these Latin American economies, as fostered and shaped by governmental policies, were creating this imbalance of payments, they were also involved in spending large amounts of their revenue on creating and improving the infrastructure within the country—especially in urban centers. While these were necessary improvements, the high costs of these infrastructures were crippling the resources of the governments. This was especially so because the populist policies extant at the time made the tax rates low while the country suffered from a high rate of tax evasion. This even worsened the problem of budget deficits and debt, and inflation rates began to climb.

At this point, an expansion of industrialization had occurred, but it had yet to deepen by moving away from primary goods and into the areas of consumer goods. Such goods required much higher levels of investment to fund the capital-intensive (technological) investments that were necessary(O’Donnell, 60). With the exception of Argentina, who some analysts argue had already began its deepening of industrialization (but which likely still needed more movement in that direction), the Latin American countries suffered from stagnation in their ability to move forward. Along with the above-mentioned problems, the countries were beginning to experience high levels of inflation, while their governments’ nationalization of many foreigner-owned companies made foreign direct investment unlikely in a time where any form of investment was largely needed.

Populist policies mixed with democratic rule was not a good combination for the attraction of foreign investment. Investors are attracted by such conditions as low wages, weak workers’ unions, and low incidence of employee strikes. Any government that can guarantee these conditions would have to do so by suppressing the powers of its populace, and within a democratic government, movement in that direction would certainly preclude re-election. These conditions (along with the fact that industrialization had caused a dramatic increase in the number of educated technocrats who found it attractive to support military enforcement of the necessary reforms) led to an atmosphere in which bureaucratic authoritarianism became possible.

Urban Bias

The Urban Bias in Latin America was a source of problems for the political cohesion of the country. While Argentina did in fact have a majority of its population living in urban centers, most Latin American countries (including Brazil and Chile) left the majority of its population unrepresented because of the phenomenon known as Urban Bias. This problem arises when large urban coalitions are formed and the political influence they enjoy is used to tip the balance of economics in their favor. The political influence of the poor who reside in the rural areas is minimized and the population’s majority becomes disgruntled (O’Donnell, 60).

Several areas existed in which Latin American rural areas suffered as a result of the phenomenon of urban bias. Spending in the areas of health care and education was inadequately performed in the rural areas of these countries. Rural dwellers received less per capita investment in their education and health than did urban dwellers, and this existed while the rural population suffered a disproportionately high level of taxation when compared with the benefits they received. Taxation was nominally the same across the board for urban and rural dwellers; however, the per capita return on their taxes revealed that the money contributed by members of the rural population to the country’s tax revenue was being spent mainly within the urban centers. Furthermore, rural persons suffered from conditions that made prices higher in their region than in the urban centers. They suffered from such problems that arise from economies of scale and transportation costs, which made urban prices lower. This was only exacerbated by the fact that higher paying jobs were located in the urban areas and away from rural areas, forcing these non-city dwellers to accept a lower standard of living because of their inability to afford the prices of commodities. Plus, their lack of representation was worsened by the fact that most government representatives lived in urban centers, away from the problems of the rural populace.

Other problems of urban bias affected manufacturers and producers within the rural areas, especially those within the agricultural sector. The low government investment in infrastructure had the effect of increasing the difficulty and the costs of transporting goods. Governments with urban-biased policies were also able to make policies that were unfavorable to small-time farmers and members of any other industries who were based outside the urban areas.

Changes within the Military

The role of the military has been a very important one in most Latin American countries. This body has been responsible for major coups and seizures of governmental control within Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Civilians have historically been in favor of these forced transfers of power to the military, and these military bodies have traditionally enjoyed a great deal of power, even during times of non-leadership. The officers of the military often played dual roles as cabinet members and therefore enjoyed a great deal of influence in political matters. Furthermore, these Latin American countries possessed constitutions that granted leave to the military to intervene and seize power in times of national economic, social or political crisis. While such clauses were not overtly written into the laws, the constitutions implied this and left it to the discretion of the military to decide when such major crises were underway. The type of military rule that resulted within these countries represent a unique kind which did not act in the normal way of seizing and staying in power only for a short period and then returning the reigns to civilians. Rather, the form of bureaucratic authoritarianism known within these regimes saw the military taking hold and retaining the power of the government for much longer periods in which they felt they could effect extensive reforms to the economic systems.

The sizes of the armies in Brazil, Chile and Argentina differed in that the Brazilian military was much smaller, constituting perhaps only a third (1/3) of the number that made up the military of the other two Latin American countries. The military provided a means of upward mobility for a lot of the Brazilian officers, who mainly came from the lower or middle classes. Furthermore, the general idea that began to grow within the military was that it alone was capable of solving the social, political and economic problems of the country. This stemmed from the fact that the military enjoyed a much higher percentage of educated persons than did the general population. Military schools focused not just on military strategy but also economics, politics and sociology. Plus, because of the military’s tradition of passing down of military ideals about hierarchy and methods of succession, ideas concerning methods of ruling were different throughout the entire group.

Brazilians, as fore-runners of Latin American military policies, were first to institute the Escola Superior de Guerra (ESG). This body encouraged the doctrine of national security, a doctrine that was really characterized by its recommendations for economic and political policy. It held that any strong political rule from the Left represented the most serious threat to national security. Conversely, it held that market economies supported and bolstered by intervention of the (military) state was the optimal economic model. These ideas and conditions led to the plan for the legitimization of a form of military rule known as bureaucratic interventionism.

Developments in Argentina and Chile in many ways mirrored those of Brazil. Within these three countries, similar developments progressed further to the formation of alliances between technocrats and military officers. This was made especially possible by the fact that civilians were allowed to attend the military academies that taught military-centered rule in the production and maintenance of a strong market economy. Plus, the economic problems as well as United States’ prejudice against communist (or leftist) governments made the military atmosphere change even more toward the planning of a take-over. At this point, coups took place in each of the nations and bureaucratic interventionism was established.

In Brazil, Goulart faced charges of tolerating anarchy within the government and the military saw its chance to perpetrate its forced seizure of the reigns of the government. In Argentina, during the time of General Peron (who ironically had attained the presidency as a result of a coup) a rift began to develop between him and his military. Peron’s treatment of the military extended his authoritarian rule to his interaction with officers. Despite benefits granted to the military, Peron had begun to require that loyalty tests be made part of the requirements of Argentina’s ESG. Furthermore, the troops were regularly monitored in order to uncover any actions that might be considered disloyal to the president. This, coupled with the fact that the politics of party competition was making the president’s position impossible, caused Peron to be removed from office in 1955 for, among other reasons, “lack of loyalty to the [military] institution” (Geddes 185; Norden, 27).

Within Chile, the role of the United States was profound in its aid to the military and was characterized by its policy against investment in the Chilean economy. The first attempt at a military coup was thwarted, as the military’s intent had not yet fully coalesced into a unified movement against Allende. Tank commanders were therefore stopped by members of the regular armed forces. Yet the military was becoming more and more popular, especially among the educated. When the situation continued to decline, such groups as the Christian Democrats, Nationalists, and students advocated the resignation of the president and called for the intervention of the military. Representatives within the Chamber of Deputies also began to question and compromise the legitimacy of the president by calling for the intervention of the military. This precipitated the Chilean leg of the Latin American coups and the subsequent establishment of repressive bureaucratic authoritarian regimes.

Works Cited

Geddes. “An Impossible Game: Party Politics in Argentina, 1955-1966.” POLI 163. pp. 95-189.

Norden, Deborah L. Military Rebellion in Argentina. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,      1996.

O’Donnell, Guillermo. Modernization and Bureaucratic Authoritarianism. Berkeley: Institute of             International Studies, 1973.

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