My wife and I both share the cooking at home, but I always do the kitchen clean up. The reason why is in the following haiku I wrote. A discussion of its origin and its literal meaning, as well as a discussion of its extended metaphorical meaning (particularly with reference to Elizabeth Warren and the CFPB) follows below the squiggle.


D. E. Wagoner

Don't let the person
Who has the poorest vision
Clean up the kitchen

Now those who have read my infrequent diaries and more frequent comments have learned that I was an officer in the U.S. Navy.  In particular, I was a Supply Corps officer. Now one of the things the Supply Corps is in charge of on a Navy ship is the Ship's Mess & Galley. Any officer going through Supply Corps School gets drilled repeatedly about the necessity for cleanliness on board ship--in fact, that's historically known to be one of things that the Navy is quite particular about. Of course the reason is obvious--food contamination, food poisoning, or other cleanliness-related ailments and problems. So the rule we learned is that you don't put in charge of kitchen inspection your sloppiest sailor or the one with the worst vision. You put one of your sharpest and most eagle-eyed messmen in charge of that inspection. If that inspection were to get messed up and you end up food-poisoning some of your crew due to contaminated food or conditions, then I would have to explain it all to my very angry Department Head and perhaps even a furious Captain (which is of course the principal reason for this precaution--self-preservation).

Even on an aircraft carrier (where I served) 5000+ sailors, Marines, and air wing crew live together in cramped conditions. And it is even more cramped on smaller ships and especially submarines. Anytime a large number of people are living in close quarters, cleanliness is absolutely essential to the health of the crew and the proper running of the ship.

This is also true of the Army, Marines, and Air Force, as well as any commercial restaurant or kitchen. Now I enjoy watching Chef Gordon Ramsey on "Kitchen Nightmares". Among the first things he looks for at a restaurant he is visiting is its cleanliness--and if it doesn't match his high standards then there will be bloody hell to pay. Those who watch the show know that when Gordon Ramsey gets displeased he swears like a bosun's mate. And of course the reason is that if you are cooking in less than sanitary conditions, you just courting trouble (of the food-based variety) for those you are cooking for. And who wants that.

So now why do I do the kitchen clean up? I think my little haiku explains it all--I can just see better than my wife. My darling wife just has some mild eye ailments which means my vision is just more acute than hers. I can see the grease splatters on the counter or the dropped food on the floor that she sometimes misses. So it just makes sense. And although I hate to sound like a fussbudget, I think because of my Navy training I'm a bit more particular in the area of kitchen cleanup too than my sweet wife. But she doesn't mind at all letting me take over the KP duties--did I mention that my wife is also very perspicacious.

But my little haiku also has an extended metaphorical meaning beyond the literal one I described above. In particular our nation's financial kitchen has been giving all of us in the middle class a case of financial diarrhea. And we need to inspect and clean up the dirty financial conditions that gave rise to this ailment. That's why President Obama properly got the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) established.

And just like the Ship's Mess on a carrier, we need someone in charge of the CFPB who is the sharpest and most eagled-eyed agency chief we could find. And I don't think President Obama could find anyone in our great US of A who is sharper or more acutely aware of our financial industry problems and how to deal with them than Elizabeth Warren. Her qualifications are exactly the reason the Republicans and the financial sector are so terrified of her and intimidated by her. She knows exactly the financial games they are playing, and she has the indomitable will and eagled-eyed vision to impose a serious financial inspection and cleanup to get us out of our financial diarrhea and on a fair road to recovery. I wish President Obama would take heed of the metaphoric meaning of my little haiku, and name Elizabeth Warren as Head of the CFPB, even if it has to be by recess appointment. We need her to keep our nation's financial house shipshape.

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