Tuesday, November 29, 2011

America Under Attack

200 year old towns in New England washed away, Joplin blown away, New Orleans drowned. East St Louis, Detroit and many more looking like Dresden after the firebombing of WW2.

Entire mountains blown to bits. Toxic lakes that kill any birds landing on them. A massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, even before the BP/Halliburton oil spill. Ranchers who live near fracking operations with water that catches fire, and a plan to do the same for the millions of people who live on the East Coast. Massive amounts of farmland depleted of topsoil and poisoned with herbicides and pesticides. Plans to drill for oil in the last great remaining wilderness of Alaska.

The Bill of Rights gone. Police breaking down doors, killing dogs, arresting citizens and confiscating four billion dollars worth of personal property a year. Police tasing, pepper spraying, and beating protesters. People being sentenced to decades-long sentences for small crimes, while rich criminals roam free. Americans subjected to ID checks, porno scanners and gropings. Every American treated as a potential criminal and terrorist.

One out of five American children living in poverty. Millions of homes empty, while millions of people are thrown out of their homes. People living on the streets, in their cars, in the woods. Food stamps cut.

TV talking heads whipping up hysteria at potential enemies overseas while our country is destroyed by those who profit.

What enemy can destroy land, water, air, the atmosphere, communities, civil rights, and living conditions and go unopposed by the majority of Americans?

Parts of America look as if they've been bombed. Thousands of Americans are internal refugees.

Yet the class war continues. And most Americans don't even notice.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The End of Consumerism

I know that I just wrote about Americans and their stuff, and my Facebook friends are divided between those decrying consumerism and pushing for Buy Nothing Day, and those ready to spend Thanksgiving night in the parking lot at Best Buy, but, actually, the decision to decrease American consumerism has been taken out of our hands. Or our consciences.

I read an interesting Citibank prospectus, from a few years ago, telling investors that there was no money to be made in selling to so-called "middle class" (actually workers with higher wages or salaries) anymore. They're calling it the hourglass theory, with the very rich able to afford goods and services, and the very poor able to afford only a little, and no one really left in the middle.

It's like the old joke where the kid is selling lemonade for $100 a glass, and someone tells him "You're not going to sell much lemonade that way, son". And the kid says "I only have to sell one!"

Luxury items are selling well. Cruise lines are advertising to the rich now, and not so much catering to the buffet-eating masses. On the bottom part of the hourglass, Dollar General is doing well. One woman was quoted as saying how much she preferred Dollar General to WalMart, because she didn't have to dress up to go there.

And now Time magazine has made it official. I quote from the Oct. 31, 2011 edition, which lays it out in Time's usual cheery fashion - "If successful, the shift to consumer spending will take a good chunk of the weight of the global economy off the shoulders of American consumers and make China a gotta-be-there market for everything from video games to surgical tools to potato chips".

Let me translate that. Americans no longer make enough money to interest capitalists looking to sell consumer goods. Or health care items. As if the insurance companies we're going to be forced to pay tribute to are actually going to pay for surgery! No, out of 7 billion people on this planet, there are enough elsewhere to keep profits flowing without the participation of US consumers. So, bye buy!

And if we all switched to a simpler lifestyle, the way my family has been doing for years, (Live simply, so others may simply live), it wouldn't be so bad.

I mean, shoes that light up when you walk? Cards that sing when you open them? Four-wheelers? Disposable everything? All ending up in the landfills, polluting the water supplies?

But, as usual, the cutbacks are spread unequally. More and more people are living in tent cities, students are preyed upon to put them into eternal debt, and 21% of American children live in poverty. (Because we're a child loving nation!)

I'm hoping that the OWSers don't start petitioning the 1% for a return of a wider section of the US population to the resource wasting consumption of the past.

We live on a finite planet, with finite resources, much of which we've already wasted. We need to move forward, not back to the US version of the late 20th century.

Forward to a sustainable population living in harmony with each other, and the ecosystem on which we depend.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Private Property

Americans love their stuff. We think of ourselves as a consumption based society. McMansions, fancy cars, tricked-out phones, shoes that light up, trinkets and baubles galore. We have shopping channels, and malls, and credit cards, to make sure that we can always get more stuff.

Without mention or notice, however, this is changing. Many Americans have lost their big stuff, like houses, and are reduced to hoarding the little they have left in shopping carts, or stashed under a tarp in a corner of a vacant lot. Still, the things they have left mean a lot to them, and it devastates them when cops come in and destroy or discard their possessions.

The protesters in Zucotti Park were outraged when cops came in and destroyed their encampment, trashing tents, sleeping bags, books, and whatever else they could get their hands on.

US cops confiscate four BILLION dollars a year in US citizens' cars, real estate and cash.

Americans lose their land to road widenings, and the Supreme Court has upheld the taking of private personal land for private corporate profits.

But when I bring up the idea of the corporate death penalty, people are appalled! Take away property from the rich, even if they've killed people? This is considered unthinkable by the average American.

Before the Civil War, people who advocated abolishing slavery were considered radical. The economic worth of four million slaves was a lot. To just take all that money away from slaveholders seemed outrageous to some.

But abolitionists kept on. Interestingly, there were a lot of people who were also fighting corporate power before the Civil War.

But now, most people consider slavery to be outrageous, and corporate power untouchable.

Sure, corporations are laying millions of people off, control our governments, and most other countries' governments, kill people with their processes and their products, and are destroying the planets' ecosystem.

But even aware people who realize all of this are afraid to advocate the abolition of corporations. They want to end corporate personhood, or use taxpayer moneys to fund elections (i.e., use public money to pay corporate media for attack ads), or some other wimpy solution that falls short of the needed transformation of our society.

If a corporation commits a criminal act, it should get the death penalty and its assets turned over to its workers, to be owned and controlled by the workers, with responsibility for its actions.

A country that throws citizens, (real human beings) into prison for stealing bicycles or pizza slices should not flinch at rescinding corporate charters for poisoning of water supplies or murder.

Mass hysteria is whipped up at "terrorists" who ponder the feasibility of putting arsenic in a town's water supply, but a corporation that poisons the water supply of millions is allowed to continue.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

USS Titanic

The greed of the 1% baffles most people. The 400 richest Americans own more than the bottom 150 million combined, yet most of the bottom 150 million Americans would be happy with economic security. While they may dream of winning the lottery, a good-paying job with a house and a car are all they really aspire to.

But multiple mansions and cars and private jets and private islands don't seem to be enough for the insatiable rich. What character defect drives them? How can they justify taking from people who have almost nothing, in order to add to their inventory of expensive belongings?

The USA is sinking,like the Titanic, but in very slow motion. We have been sinking for 30 years, but even the people in steerage have managed to stay alive. Sure, they had to tread water, but the leavings from those above them have kept them alive.

But now those in the cabins above steerage are starting to sink. They are outraged! Why are they being treated like steerage? This is wrong! They always thought that they were right up there with the first class people, just not paid quite as much.

But the first class people are cutting off the crumbs for all, causing so much turmoil that even the corporate media remarks on the surges.

What keeps the Titanic afloat? The inflated bubble, they tell us.

So the rich are using the last bits of wealth that the steerage has to keep their parts inflated. They must keep taking from those below them, or they will sink with us. It's as if our drowning screams are the air they need.

They position the police and the military between us and them, enforcing their power to take.

Even some of the police and military are starting to realize that they will be cut loose when their usefulness is through, but, like everyone else, they're hanging on to the sides of the lifeboats as long as they can.

But, as George Bush said, this sucker is going down.
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