Friday, June 8, 2012

The Politics of the Middle Class

As a child growing up in LA, I knew that different neighborhoods had different houses. My grandmother lived in a small wooden house in downtown LA, and I lived in a small stucco house in the suburbs. Other neighborhoods had different houses. At the time, I thought that it was geography that dictated the difference, but as I traveled more, I realized that it was time. There were small wooden houses in nearly every city, as well as stucco houses, and old Victorian houses. It depended on when they were built, not where.

Today we are seeing an uprising of Americans concerned about the loss of their standard of living. The politicians and many people refer to it as the loss of the "middle class".

What was the middle class? It was workers who were paid well enough to be able to buy a house and a car, have plenty to eat, take vacations and buy their kids toys and then send them to college.

The pretense now is that the middle class are a special breed of people, hard-working and college educated, honest and thrifty. But that's not at all true.

It was a time, not a people. A time when organized workers got good wages and benefits, and the ruling class was willing to share more of the proceeds of the labor that they got from the workers. People today work just as hard, usually for longer hours, and many college educated people make low wages. The people haven't changed, the times have.

When blue collar workers were attacked, and their living standards dropped, college educated people continued, for a while, to be well paid. And public sector workers still had their unions and benefits.

Now a college education has turned into a financial racket, with colleges acting as businesses, selling degrees to desperate students, and acting as middlemen to turn the kids over to the FIRE sector at the very beginning of their adult lives.

And now we are seeing the attack on the final sector, the public workers and their unions. The win of Scott Walker in Wisconsin is the triumph of money over justice, but the real tragedy was over a year ago, when angry workers were rebelling against his attacks.

Hundreds of thousands of workers, including teachers, firefighters, police and farmers descended onto Madison, protesting loudly. How to deflect this anger? The Democrats and the union leaders channelled it into endless petition gathering and conventional electioneering.

The pretense of the corporate parties is that the American middle class can be defended, and that they are the ones to do it. Romney openly said that he only cared about the middle class, not the poor. But if you define the middle class as an income level, and not a personal virtue, than you must realize that fewer and fewer Americans fit into that income level.

And it is immoral to want to recreate a standard of living that used an unsustainable amount of resources and exploited the poor, at home and abroad.

Our goal should be to create a comfortable standard of living that provides the basics for all, without destroying our ecosystem as a result. We will have to create joy from human community and solidarity, rather than the consumption of endless disposable trinkets.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What's Going on With the Military?

I may have blogged about one of my co-workers a few years ago, when he bragged about how much he loved going down to Texas, as part of his military police duties, and performing "cell extractions" for practice, because the Texas authorities didn't care how brutal they were. He gloried in his power over the inmates. Last week, he came to work and explained that when he woke up that morning, he had 5 phone messages from the military, telling him that he was honorably discharged, with full benefits, unless he got his Congressman to intervene in 24 hours. WTF? He was dumfounded. And so am I. He said that in no way would he quit the military now, not when he'd worked so hard to get where he is, and not when he had a sweet deployment coming up in October. What deployment? I asked, wondering if he was going to the Bahamas, or something. Khandahar, Afghanistan, he said. Why is that a sweet deployment? I asked. Because, he said, I am the head of a 35 man Special Forces unit that gets to kick in doors, everynight. He whined that he had just gone to a 2 week boot camp, and why did they send him there to be tortured if they were going to discharge him? Why indeed? And why was someone who has been in the military for years sent to boot camp? And how did someone in the Military Police end up in the Special Forces? I didn't ask him any of that. But I do know that the military picks the most brutal of their members to be in the most repressive of their units. So, I'm guessing that that is how he ended up in Special Forces. But why the sudden drumming out? Is it possible that the US is really taking the protests of the Afghan government seriously? And are they weeding out those that they know will live out their brutal fantasies of wielding power and dealing out fear, torture and death to those unable to fight back? Are they actually trying to stop US soldiers from raping, murdering and urinating on Afghan civilians? When I told this story to friends on Saturday, one of them said that the same thing happened to a friend of her children. Although he was diagnosed with PTSD, he was to be re-deployed to Afghanistan, until they suddenly informed him of his immediate honorable discharge from the military. Interesting.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Costs of War

"WAR is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives." Major General Smedley Butler

I was asked to talk about the costs of war. This is not an easy subject to research.

You would expect that the dollar costs of war for the US would be easy to find. After all, our Constitution requires that "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time". So the monetary costs of the various wars should be right there in plain view, not hidden in separate accounts, or put into an unconstitutional "black budget". (Of course, the Constitution also states that only Congress can declare war, and we see how well that provision is followed). While it would take hours to try to track US spending on war, I can safely say that many trillions of dollars have been spent on wars, weapons, and occupations since WW2.

What about the human costs of war? There is a very specific count kept of dead US service members. But is it accurate? We don't know. The tally for the two biggest invasions and occupations of the last 10 years is said to be 6051. If a soldier is wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, and airlifted to Germany and then dies there, does his or her death count? Dead mercenaries are not included, even if they are American. Suicides are not counted, even if in-country. Special Forces deaths in unacknowledged attacks are not counted.

The wounded are counted, but again, we don't know how accurate the count is. And what about the psychic wounds? The broken marriages, the alcohol and drug abuse, the nightmares, the rages, the child abuse, the 100 mph motorcycle crash? Not counted.

And when it comes to the victims of US wars-well, we don't do body counts. Our government doesn't care. It doesn't have to.

How many people died in Iraq? The estimates range from the US government count of 150,000 to more accurate estimates of over one million people, not counting those who died from lack of clean water, sewage treatment or medical care, caused by the attacks on water and sewage treatment plans, and the bombings of hospitals. These are all war crimes, by the way, along with the torture of prisoners, including many people who were tortured to death. All war crimes, which is ignored by the media. How many refugees? Again, the estimates vary, but there are millions of displaced people inside of Iraq and around 2 million outside of Iraq, including one million in Syria, now being threatened by the US again. How many widows and orphans have we made? How many children traumatized by the terrors of bombs dropping for hours at a time, of seeing family members killed, of having their homes broken into in the middle of the night and their fathers and brothers dragged away by heavily armored troops?

How many Afghans have died? There seems to be even less effort to find that out.

Shortly after Obama was inaugurated, even before he received his Nobel Peace Prize, he increased the number of drone attacks on Pakistan, driving 2 million people from their homes, in the winter, to live in tents in the freezing cold. 2 million homeless refugees, not usually even mentioned in the accounting of the costs of war. And we know that there are drone attacks also in Yemen and Somalia. How many have died? We don't know. Our government might know but it doesn't care to tell us.

The environmental costs of war are enormous and ongoing. From the depleted uranium bombs dropped onto Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, to the burning of oil and other toxic wastes, the destruction of forests, marshes and farmland, not only from bombs, but from the heavy military equipment the US uses to invade, the destruction of the environment is a terrible cost of war. Although we know that rainforests are essential to our world, the US dropped tons of herbicide on Asian rainforests and continues to drop herbicides onto Columbia. The US uses vast amounts of oil to invade other countries. Birds, amphibians, animals and other wildlife are killed by the destruction and pollution of their habitat. The birth defect rates and cancer rates are skyrocketing in victim countries, especially in Falllujah,

US soldiers also kill the livestock and pets of their victims. There was a brief scandal in the US when a video went viral of US Marines throwing a puppy over a cliff and laughing about it. We were treated to the usual claims that this is not the American way. But many, many citizens of these countries report that their animals have been killed by US troops.

We are now going through a variation of previous scandals. A US soldier (or more, according to witnesses) broke into a house in Afghanistan and massacred 16 people, including 9 children. The media is covering this extensively, especially showing sympathy for the perp, who was on his fourth tour. (His lawyer had previously been Ted Bundy's lawyer, but I don't recall the same sympathetic treatment of Ted Bundy in the media. ) Obama solemnly declares that mass murder is not part of the American character.

OK, we know that killing civilians while drunk, or urinating on those you've killed, or burning Korans, are not part of the exalted American character. But dropping bombs for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as part of a shock and awe strategy, dropping bombs on family celebrations, such as weddings and birthday parties, killing scores of people with drones, apparently is a perfectly fine part of the American character.

Does anyone else find this baffling? Why is it OK to call in an air strike and kill hundreds of people, or blow people up at checkpoints who don't understand commands given in English, but not OK to urinate on their corpses? It's OK to burn children, but not Korans. It's OK to kick down doors in the middle of the night, and kidnap or kill the sleeping people, but not OK if you're drunk?

What IS the American character and how is it affected by our endless wars? This cost is rarely mentioned in the accounting of the tragedies of war.

American immigrants before WW2 were frequently people escaping conscription in their home countries. America had a strong tradition of resisting foreign entanglements. But this changed with the 2 world wars of the 20th century. While enough Europeans were slaughtered to sober them into giving up their warlike ways, at least temporarily, American civilians came out of WW2 sitting pretty. A decision was made by our ruling overlords to turn to a permanent war economy. We all know that the famous "military-industrial complex" that Eisenhower warned us about is now a reality. Bits of the war machine are scattered into each district in America, including our own General Dynamics, which manufactures depleted uranium weapons, which kill not only this generation, but poison generations to come in the future. This is a war crime. Instead of despising the war profiteers, as our ancestors did, we revere them as "job providers". We have over 700 bases all over the world, and our immense standing military of the last 60 years equals millions of children born into military families, brought up on military bases, and educated at military schools. What effect does this have upon our society? When I was a child, we were taught thecivilian values of the previous America, like- pick on someone your own size, and don't be a bully. You don't hear those values anymore. Instead, the overwhelming US military superiority is celebrated, and the lack of the ability of self-defense of our victims is considered a very good thing.

After WW2, a "Ratline" was set up and numerous Nazis and Nazi sympathizers were brought into the Americas, and in the following decades, as some of the Empire's subjects rebelled against our proxy rulers, other war criminals, death squad leaders, terrorists and collaborators were brought into our country. What effect do they have on our society? Just last month, a war criminal, Gen. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova from El Salvador, was ordered deported for war crimes he committed in 1980. So for over 30 years, he's lived unmolested. About 80,000 people were killed by their own government in El Salvador in the 1980s. Did the US call for an invasion to stop the killings? No. They supported the junta, and allowed numerous criminal immigrants into the US. Chilean and Haitian war criminals, among others, are also living in the US. A terrorist who was convicted of blowing up a civilian airliner and killing everyone on board is living openly in Miami.

In WW2, it was found that only 15% of soldiers were willing to fire at a person they were face to face with. This was considered a problem, and the military spent many millions of dollars finding ways to overcome this human tendency.

Our entire society has been subjected to a propaganda campaign to justify wars, and our TV shows, our movies and our video games glorify violence and teach that the only possible outcome to conflict is violence. By the time our children are 18 years-of-age; he or she will witness 200,000 acts of violence, including 40,000 murders. The US Army gives away millions of violent video games to teenagers.

Where has this been leading us? A violent culture, coupled with the simultaneous self-righteous belief in our ultimate goodness and inalienable right to dictate to the rest of the world, further combined with the wide-spread cowering fear that we are vulnerable to violent acts of other peoples of the world, and must kill them before they kill us. As Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out in 1967, in the midst of the brutal US attack on Vietnam,

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."

45 years later, we are much farther along in our spiritual demise and our programs of social uplift have been devastated and are under further attack. It seems very easy at this time for the US government to attack other countries. Like well-trained dogs, we are willing to sic anyone that our ruling overlords point to. There are many Americans very willing to advocate killing everyone in Iran, a country of 75 million people.

Wikileaks released a video of US soldiers killing a group of men on a street in Iraq, and then wounding a man who stopped to help him. When the Good Samaritan tried to get back in his car, they shot up the car, and severely wounded his children. When the Americans found out that there were injured children in the car, one of them said "It's his fault for bringing his children into a war zone". What kind of demented mindset could believe that? The man didn't bring his children into a war zone. America brought the war zone to his children.

And who was arrested, tortured and prosecuted for this crime? Bradley Manning, the soldier with a conscience, who is said to have given the evidence to Wikileaks.

Last year, the US and NATO attacked Libya, telling us that they were protecting the civilians from their evil dictator. The country with the highest standard living in Africa has now had its infrastructure destroyed, and a civil war has started with tens of thousands of dead civilians killed in order to save them. How many? Our government doesn't care; it doesn't have to.

Last week a new kind of propaganda was rolled out. I'm sure that most people here were exposed to the internet video of a cute little American kid, learning about a bad guy who must be killed in order to save the children of Uganda. What was this? It didn't take long for debunkers to expose that Joseph Kony hasn't been in Uganda for 6 years, and that the decades-long civil war, in which the US-backed government of Musevini was also guilty of war crimes, has been over for years. Why would US citizens now be asked to support US military intervention to get a long-gone "bad guy"? Could it be the oil found in Uganda, and the wish of the US to have a military base in Africa?

Now we are told that Syrian President Assad is attacking his own people and must be stopped. And that Iran is thinking about someday maybe getting nuclear weapons and must be attacked. It seems that these two excuses for war have played well before and so are being rolled out again. It doesn't matter that they used the WMD excuse on Iraq 9 years ago, and then admitted that it was a lie. It doesn't matter that the so-called humanitarian interventions in Yugoslavia and Libya ended up killing far more civilians than were projected to have been killed by their evil dictators, and that the people in all the countries that the US has attacked are worse off now.

Even people who believe in peaceful ways sometimes fall for the assumption that the US military can be used for good, decades of evidence to the contrary. We must remember that people are never better off when bombs fall onto them, no matter what our media tells us.

The blatant disregard for international law that the US has shown in its interactions with other countries has come home to roost. Our ruling elite breaks laws with impunity, while ordinary Americans are imprisoned at rates far higher than any other country on the planet. While Americans can plan weddings and birthday parties without worrying about drone attacks wiping out the participants, we are not immune from late night attacks from heavily armed SWAT teams, breaking down doors, terrorizing children, killing dogs, and arresting adults. There are such raids every night now. The US was founded on the rule of law, but everyone now knows that the laws don't apply to the rich and powerful. The very foundation of our society and government has been undermined.

The last cost that I want to mention is the loss of civil liberties at home. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. . . , as James Madison pointed out. So endless war leads to the permanent loss of liberty that we have seen in the last decades. Methods of oppression learned in occupation are brought home to use on our own population. Tolerance of brutality in other countries leads to tolerance of police and prison brutality at home. Our police forces have been militarized, and since 2002, there is now a military command over the United States, Northcom.

I have focused more on the costs of war to Americans than to our victims. I apologize for that, but it is our task to take responsibility for what our own nations's government does, and it is here that so many modern wars have originated. The next wars are connected to the last wars because the underlying causes are the same. To change our nation's course, we must learn from our history and recent experience. The lesson we must take from that is that we must work to change the midset of our citizens, and the underlying economic and class causes of war, or we will continually be, as Martin Luther King pointed out, protesting war after war after war.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Running for Congress

For Congress!

Today, as Ralph Nader put it, “Washington, D.C. is corporate-
occupied territory.” But we, the people, can – and must –
fight back. We must elect representatives to Congress who
will truly be representatives for us, not the corporate elite and
big banking interests that buy political results with campaign
contributions, Super-PACs and an army of lobbyists.

Wage will be a true representative of the people. A
registered nurse by profession and long-time advocate for
peace and social progress, she is a true working-class
candidate. As a candidate of the Green Party, she is guided by its principles and values. With your support, Wage will
lead the fight for a government devoted to preserving the commons, protecting the environment, restoring civil rights and
freedoms, and serving the public good.

Here are some of the things Wage stands for:

Restore Our Rights and Freedoms

Congress has abdicated its oath to protect the Constitution and voted for numerous freedom-stripping bills -- from the
Patriot Act of 2001, through the Military Commissions Act, Homegrown Terrorism Act, Protect America Act, and now
the National Defense Authorization Act. Wage will work to repeal these laws and defend your rights and freedoms.

Stop Corporate Welfare

Corporate politicians and media keep perpetuating the myth that massive tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent will
somehow create jobs and allow wealth to trickle down to us – even though this has been tried for 30 years and hasn’t
worked. It has instead led to rising poverty, mass unemployment and closed factories -- while the wealthy corporate
owners sit on literally trillions of dollars that they cannot profitably invest, and the vast majority of working people
shoulder unprecedented tax burdens. Wage says: No more tax giveaways to the rich and no more public subsidies and
giveaways to the corporations.

No American Empire

All empires fall, usually from overextension. The U.S. has over 700 military bases around the world, and the stated
goal of the U.S. military is “full spectrum dominance” of the globe. Not only is this impossible, it's illegal and immoral.
How can we teach our children that bullying is wrong, and kindness and generosity good, when we live in a country
that operates under the principle that we must dominate all other people and resources of the world? Our military should
protect our country, within our geographic borders. Wage will oppose all illegal wars, bombings, assassinations and drone
attacks. Occupy Wall Street – yes. Occupy Afghanistan – no.

Protect Americans; Promote Economic Security

Americans are now subjected to the terrors of unemployment, homelessness, poverty, hunger, record levels of
imprisonment and massive cuts to education, unemployment benefits, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps. Thirty years
of attacks on unions and the public sector has devastated U.S. workers. Corporations are blowing up mountains, poisoning
rivers and wells, and dumping toxins into the air. Mercury and lead in the water cause brain damage, while sulfur dioxide
in the air causes some children to suffocate with asthma. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires and droughts are bringing
global climate instability home, while Congress ignores reality and pretends that we can somehow return to the days of
cheap gas and no consequences for burning it. SWAT teams kick in doors every night, and the police attack peaceful

protesters, while Wall Street loots pension funds with impunity. Meanwhile, we are told that the biggest threat to our well-
being is a chance of a passenger with a bomb on an airplane -- so travelers on planes are irradiated and groped, while
freight is loaded below them without such screening.

Wage will stand up against the real threats to our well-being – the exploiters, polluters and oppressors. While most of
Congress and the corporate media tell us that we “can’t afford” to fund education, public works and public services
any more, the Federal Reserve almost instantaneously created $16 trillion to give to Wall Street bankers and we waste
hundreds of billions of dollars on wars and illegal occupations of other nations. The top 1% of Americans own more
wealth than the lowest 90 percent combined. The notion that we “can’t afford” to meet our needs is a big lie.

Wage supports the National Emergency Employment Defense Act of 2011, which would shift control of our money
supply and monetary policy back to Congress, in keeping with Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. It would
nationalize the Federal Reserve and take the power to create money away from private banks by curtailing the fractional
reserve system. Instead, money would be spent into circulation by paying workers directly to perform socially necessary
services. Wage also supports ending the colossal waste of militarism and war, and taxing financial speculation, to provide
the additional revenue needed to provide economic security.

It is absurd that millions of workers are unemployed while others are overworked and there is so much necessary work
to do. It is ridiculous that homes sit vacant while so many Americans are homeless. It is unconscionable that people go
without health care while private health insurers rake in record profits. These are not unsolvable problems – if we have the
political will to tackle them.

Back to Basics

“The Earth has enough to provide for our needs, but not enough to provide for our greed.” -- Ghandi

Americans are now being urged to sacrifice the air, water and topsoil of our country in order to blow out the last
remaining bits of fossil fuels for the current generation. That is madness. We must be concerned with the kind of world
our children and future generations will inherit. We must live sustainably in order that others may also live, now and in
the future. Humans need air, water and food to survive. We need clothing and shelter to be comfortable. We need health
care, education, renewable energy and transportation to be prosperous.

Caring for future generations begins with caring for today’s children. Every child born should be a wanted child. A
national health care system unconnected to employment could not only provide quality care for all, it would make
birth control, abortion and voluntary sterilization free and easily available. Those who choose to become parents need
education and support to help get their children off to a good start in life. We need mothering centers, where new mothers
can learn from others, children can play together, and moms can learn how to stimulate their children's intellectual
abilities. Newborn babies need nurturing but the U.S. is one of only three countries in the world which doesn't provide
paid maternity leave. Wage will introduce legislation establishing 18 months paid maternity leave. We need daycare
centers staffed with educated and kind caretakers for when parents go back to work. We must recognize that education
begins at home and that schools can’t make up for lack of parental involvement.

“I believe that Americans are a kind and generous people. I believe that we are capable
of creating a kinder, gentler nation that cares for its people, nurtures its children and
provides for its elderly. I believe that a small minority of greedy, immoral people have
taken control of our economy and bought our elected officials, but that the majority can
take it back. That is why I am running for Congress.”
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Friday, March 2, 2012

Green Economics

All life on Earth depends on the ecosystem in which we evolved. What we call the "economy" is what humans have created to provide for our needs. What we call the "financial system" is the way in which we trade goods and services between ourselves and others on this planet.

Is the system working? I don't think that any rational person would conclude that it is. Somehow, humans have been convinced that the bounty of the Earth is owned by a small minority of people, and that the products that millions of working people make are also owned by a small minority.

Many people in the United States, including all the corporate candidates and some in the Occupy movement, demand a return of the so-called "middle class".

What was the "middle class"?

After WW2, when the rest of the industrialized world had been bombed into rubble, the US rode high. After decades of agitation, the ruling class gave some ground to the working class, and vast sections of the working class were paid very well, especially the unionized members. Although the widespread purges of the 50s decimated leftists, especially in the government,unions, education and the media, the idea that workers deserved to be paid a living wage, that the elderly deserved a pension, that the unemployed deserved a pittance, continued to form the basis of our society.

The United States, with 5% of the world's population, consumed 25% of the world's resources, and most people lived large. And the government made sure that this inequality was protected. George Kennan, in 1948, pointed this out explicitly-

"we have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population.…In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity.…To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.…We should cease to talk about vague and… unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.

… We should recognize that our influence in the Far Eastern area in the coming period is going to be primarily military and economic. We should make a careful study to see what parts of the Pacific and Far Eastern world are absolutely vital to our security, and we should concentrate our policy on seeing to it that those areas remain in hands which we can control or rely on."

— George Kennan, U.S. State Department Policy Planning, Study #23, February 24, 1948

.Not all of US workers shared in the bounty, though, and in the 60s and 70s, an attempt was made to improve the lives of the poor, with the Great Society. Women and African Americans demanded that they, too, have a chance to be well-paid.

Many of the unionized white men joined with the ruling class in the backlash.

1972 was the year in which working Americans made the best wages. We've been losing ground ever since. Now women are indeed part of the workforce, because it takes two workers to earn a family wage.

1972 was also the year that the US hit peak oil. A century in which the US was the world's leading producer of oil came to an end. The first reaction of the adults in charge at that time was to move away from oil, with alternative energy being pushed, CAFE standards passed, and a general discussion about sustainable living.

The oil companies struck back, and in 1981, they put an actor in the White House, who pulled the solar panels off the roof, fired the striking union air traffic controller workers, cut taxes on the rich, attacked Central American countries struggling to better themselves, as well as progressive Afghans, and fed Americans a line of bull that hasn't stopped throughout the ensuing Presidents.

The so-called middle class, the better paid section of workers, started to shrink. First the industrialized union workers without college degrees. So the mantra began that only those with higher education deserved good wages. Young people were encouraged to go into debt to buy themselves a college degree, and colleges turned into diploma factories.

Now we see that a college degree doesn't guarantee a good paying job. And the remaining unionized workers, those in the public sector, are being targeted for impoverishment, along with doctors and nurses in the so-called private sector, which is really publically-funded by Medicare and Medicaid. The so-called Obamacare bill was designed to take the money from the health care industry and give it to the insurance industry, thus driving down wages for doctors, nurses and other health care employees.

Can we return to the previous state of affairs, where some Americans were paid enough to buy more than their share of the world's resources? Why no, we can't.

Industrial capitalism was built on cheap fossil fuels. As I pointed out, the US hit peak oil in 1972, and the attempt to control the rest of the world's supply is starting to fail. Most likely, the world has also hit peak oil, so even if the US manages to control Iraq's, Libya's, Iran's, the Artctic's and Africa's oil, which is unlikely, we have to face the future without believing in fairy tales of unlimited supply forever and ever. And the idea of burning every last bit of carbon stored over millions of years is a plantetary suicide plan anyway. Are we going to ignore the tornadoes in Joplin and Harrisburg, Katrina in New Orleans, or the inland hurricane we experienced 3 years ago?

How do we have a decent life without destroying our ecosystem in the process? That is why the Green Party was formed.

We advocate putting people to work improving our collective well-being, providing decent food, sustainable transportation, improving our housing stock to be energy-efficient, providing for our children and our elderly, living well on less energy, sustainably and environmentally supplied. We have too many workers for each to work a 40 hour week, so we need to have a shorter workweek, so that all willing and able to work can participate.

Obviously, we can't do this with a private, profit motivated 1% "creating jobs". They won't create jobs that provide for the common welfare unless they can profit from it. Providing for the common welfare is the job of the people, both individually, and united in a democratic government.

Congress is empowered by the Constitution to issue money. There is no reason for 310 million people to be at the mercy of a money system which is privately owned, and debt-based. Clearly, it's not working for us. And the 1% proclaims absurdities, as when they state that the planet can supply resources endlessly, while money, which is a computer-based human creation, is limited. Even when the Federal Reserve created $16 TRILLION dollars for Wall Street in the last 2 years, they straight-facedly claimed that children, the elderly and the sick could not be provided for, due to lack of money.

Richard Nixon, and others in the 70s, were talking about economic citizenship, the idea that every American should have a guaranteed basic income, so that no one would fall into absolute poverty.

The US government can spend money into existence, paying for socially necessary and useful work to be done, and providing retired Americans with a decent standard of living. The US could join most of the rest of the world, and pay maternity leave for at least 18 months. Private banks should be taken out of the business of creating money as debt.

The Green Party advocates that the people, united, should work together to make a better life for us all, and for all other people and species with which we share the planet.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Creating Jobs

30 million Americans are out of work. 30 million people who need money to pay the rent and buy food. 30 million people living lives of uncertainty and stress.

What is being done?

The Democrats and Republicans promise to "create jobs".

How? By cutting taxes on the rich, by removing what they refer to as burdensome regulations, by giving tax breaks and incentives to giant corporations, and by telling Americans to borrow money and open small businesses.

For 30 years, Congress and the President have cut taxes on the rich. How's that working out for us?

Between 1985 and 2008, the wealthiest 400 Americans saw the percentage of their income paid in federal income taxes drop from 29 percent to 18 percent, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.

What did they do with the money? In the 80s, they bought out other businesses, especially the well-run, family owned small businesses that Americans are told we value. With leveraged buy-outs and hostile takeovers, companies that made profits and had employee pension funds were bought out, their workers fired, their pension funds stolen, and their profits turned to debt. As it happens, profits are taxed and debt is tax deductible.

In 1955, corporations paid 27.3% of the Federal revenue. In 2010, they paid 8.9%. The GAO reported in 2008 that “two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005".

The rich also bought mansions, jets and yachts and went on an orgy of luxury spending on restaurants, art and jewelry. And, of course, Savings and Loan corporations, which were released from burdensome regulation in the 80s, and promptly became opportunities for criminal fraud and money laundering.

The rest of us became steadily more impoverished. Wages have not risen in real terms since 1974. The working class, who couldn't buy savings and loan corporations, turned to borrowing money to make up for the loss of wages. So the rich, who were paying less in wages and taxes, ended up loaning, at interest, the money that they were no longer paying for labor.

In 2001, the politicians told us that tax cuts would create more jobs, and the rate was lowered even further. The result?

50,000 factories in the US have closed in the last 10 years and corporations have laid off 10 million more American workers. The very wealthy are now so rich that they are sitting on almost two trillion dollars, unable to invest it in any productive enterprise. It should be very obvious that lowering corporate income taxes does not increase employment, especially since corporate payrolls are tax deductible. They subtract workers wages BEFORE they figure taxes, so how could lowering taxes inspire them to create jobs?

In 1955, individuals paid 58% of the federal taxes. In 2010, we paid 81.5%. But the rich are demanding that we pay even more.

What are the burdensome regulations that the corporations decry?

The most burdensome regulations are those placed upon small businesses, to benefit multi-national corporations. Not content with 98% of the market, they try to drive the surviving smaller enterprises out of business, by demanding rules that are costly for ordinary people to follow. Here's a tip on how to tell actual burdensome regulations - if large corporations have exemptions, and only small businesses must follow them- they are burdensome.

Obama's administration signed the ACTA treaty, a very burdensome regulation. Obama's Justice Department is ignoring the banking frauds of the last ten years, (unlike in the 80s, when 1200 bankers went to prison for their crimes), while going after small legal marijuana growers in California and Colorado. When Obama promises to get rid of regulations, he means the environmental laws, the worker safety laws, the health laws and other protections that Americans worked so hard to enact in the past.

The corporate politicians also want to get people borrowing money to invest in small businesses. Let's remember what FDR said about the bankers pleas to get people to borrow more money after the Roaring 20s bubble burst - "Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money.Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. " Faced by a failure of credit, Obama urges more. Students, having noticed that young people are graduating from college with massive debt and no jobs, are reluctant to participate. Obama tells them that reforms will make things less burdensome. Go ahead and borrow more to get that degree! Jobless Americans are told to follow their dreams, borrow money and open that small business they've always dreamed of.

What goods or services are 30 million Americans supposed to provide? The US produces far more food than anyone can eat, millions of houses have been built and sit empty, the store shelves are full of products. Increases in productivity, coupled with automation, computers and robots, have made it possible to produce an abundance without much human labor. What more do we need?

Well, although we produce enough food to feed most of the world, some of our people go hungry. Although brand new houses sit empty, we have millions of people who are homeless, or living with friends and relatives. The goods sit on the store shelves because people can't afford to buy them.

Abraham Lincoln is quoted as having said, "As long as there is one unemployed workingman, the hours of labor are too long".

To people fresh off the farms in the 1800s, the answer to unemployment was obvious. Share the labor and the hours will be cut for everyone.

We have 30 million unemployed workers, and 160 million workers who work more hours a week than any other country, with fewer holidays and vacations. The obvious thing to do is to hire more people and have the others work fewer hours. Wages would have to be raised, of course, and the rich would have to give up the 2 trillion dollars they can't invest.

What else does this country need? A lot of the houses that people actually live in need repair, and insulation. Our cities have crumbling areas. We need more light rail for transportation. Our children need education. We need health care. We need sustainable energy. We need to make goods here instead of importing them from thousands of miles away.

Why is it that we have 30 million unemployed people and so many needs go unmet?

There is no profit in meeting these needs. If there is no profit, there will be no business plan that involves meeting needs.

Why can't we, the people, get together and form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity?

Relying on corporations to provide us with jobs, and banks to provide us with money, has gotten us mass unemployment and a deindustrialized nation.

The way money is introduced into the economy today is by banks creating debt. Therefore, when people quit borrowing, the money supply shrinks and the economy collapses. As the economy collapses, more and more people lose their jobs, and very few people are willing to go into debt, no matter how much the politicians exhort them to.

Dennis Kucinich has proposed a bill in which the Congress takes back its power to coin money, as stated in the Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.

The Congress can create money to spend into circulation, by paying workers to do useful work, and by investing in productive enterprises. The retirement age can be lowered, opening up many opportunities for work for our younger generation. Maternity leave can be given, as is in almost every other country in the world, except for Swaziland and Papau New Guinea. And the United States. Health care can be nationalized, taking the profit out of the health care system, and having dollars spent directly to care for the sick, the injured and the elderly.

The corporate politicians tell us that money can't be created, that all debt must be repaid, that creating money would be inflationary.

And yet, the audit of the Federal Reserve told us that 16 TRILLION dollars was created in the last two years to give to Wall Street and the bankers.

They can create 16 trillion dollars, without fanfare or debate, to give to the 1%, and yet, they are laying off teachers and firefighters, closing schools and hospitals, threatening to cut Social Security and Medicare?

The class war of the last 30 years has been one-sided, and our side is reeling, as Warren Buffet points out. The corporate media and politicians tell us we can't fight back. They tell us it's too divisive.

While the militarized police attack unarmed students and protesters, and 4,000 people have been arrested since September for protesting corporate rule, not one banker has been arrested for fraud, perjury, insider trading or theft.

If elected, I promise to fight on our side of the class war. I promise to vote against austerity measures and for a new monetary policy. I promise to vote against perpetual wars and occupations, and for investment in America. I promise to vote against more prisons, and for repeal of the Patriot Act and other oppressive laws passed in the last decades. I promise to keep our National Parks, and our environmental laws. I promise to protect all labor law, except for the Taft-Hartley Act.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Dinosaurs and the Mammals

We are told that mammals evolved during the dinosaur era, but were small and few. When the meteor took out the dinosaurs, the mammals flourished.

Faced with the overwhelming control of our country and others by the giant multi-national corporations, many people are responding by forming small cooperative ventures in the belly of the beast.

Organic farmers, food co-ops, small manufacturing concerns - all are very good things.

We must switch to locally produced energy, food, goods and services, with trade on a smaller scale than the giant supply lines that the multi-nationals use.

But it's not enough to gather together and create people-sized organisms, as long as the multi-national dinosaurs continue to trample the lands, people, animals, fish, air and water of the planet.

The national government of the United States has been turned into a feeding trough for the dinosaurs, enabling their greater growth. The military is used to attack national governments who refuse to go along with their agenda. The repressive apparatus of the government is being strengthened and widened in preparation for the possibility of open rebellion by the people against them.

We small creatures will never survive unless the power of the multi-nationals is destroyed. The only power large enough to stop them is the US government.

That is why I am running for Congress. Someone has to stop voting more money to the corporations. Someone has to vote against throwing more people into prison. Someone has to stop funding endless wars and Homeland Repression. Someone has to vote to overturn the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and all the other repressive legislation.

It is the duty of the people of Southern Illinois to send someone to Congress who will stand for freedom of human citizens of the United States. Someone who will oppose corporate personhood and vote to stop corporate welfare. Someone who will support local initiatives which increase community independence and self reliance.

Then it is the duty of other communities in the United States to do the same.

There are good people in Congress, but they stand alone. I want to stand with them.

With enough Congresspeople who are willing to stand for real human Americans, and against corporate predation, we can stop the power of the multi-nationals and build a better human society.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Beauty pagaent contestants frequently respond, when asked what they dream of, "I want to feed all the little children of the world." More likely, they dream of a modeling contract, followed by a movie career.

Monsanto also proclaims its desire to feed all the little children of the world. More likely they just want increased profits on its way to controlling all the genetic plant material of the world.

A governments main concern should be the welfare of its people, and the protection of basic needs should be number one. Food is one of the most basic needs, along with air and water. In the last 30 years, our government has turned from protecting our ability to feed ourselves, and has also attacked the ability of people around the world to feed themselves. Although there are 4600 calories of food per person, per day, produced now in the world, a billion people go hungry. Obviously, Monsanto is not the solution, since the problem is not food production, it's food distribution.

Even before fossil-fueled agriculture, farmers grew more food than was needed to feed the people. Michael Pollan points out that excess corn grown in the 19th century was turned into whiskey, leading to very high rates of alcoholism in early America.

In the previous Great Depression, farmers produced more food than they could sell, while people went hungry. The government stepped in with a price support program, including paying farmers not to grow crops on marginal or environmentally sensitive lands. Food prices were kept high enough so that farmers were not driven bankrupt, while any excess was stored for future needs.

Farm policy changed when Nixon was president. Earl Butz, his Secretary of Agriculture, encouraged farmers to grow as much as possible, telling them to plant hedgerow to hedgerow. The new policy gave payments to farmers based on how much they grew. The more they grew, the more they were paid. Earl Butz also told them to get big, or get out. The new policy, coupled with Paul Volcker's high interest rates in the 80s, led to hundred of thousands of farmers losing their land, Farm Aid concerts notwithstanding. Farmer suicides soared, and there were occasional murders, although the phrase "going farmer" never caught on the way "going postal" did.

Now, less than 1% of Americans are farmers. 75% of the billions of dollars of farm subsidies go to the top 10%, including "farmers" in New York and San Francisco, who own the land in the Heartland that actual farmers farm. People like David Letterman, David Rockefeller, Scottie Pippen, Charles Schwab and the Walton heirs all receive farm subsidy checks.

What does overproduction of food mean? What effects does it have upon America and the world when 6,000 daily calories of corn for every American is produced?

The effect on the environment of the 40% of the world's corn grown in the US starts with massive amounts of herbicide dumped on the Monsanto Liberty-linked and Round-up Ready corn. Coupled with the fertilizer which leaks into the underground water and rivers of America, this already created a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, south of where the Mississippi River flows, before the BP/Halliburton oil spill.

Americans can't possibly eat 6,000 calories of corn a day, so most is fed to animals, who are kept in cramped and horrendous conditions in CAFOs, which is animal abuse on a massive scale. The waste the packed together animals produce, which should be a source of fertility for the land, becomes an air and water pollutant, instead. Not only do the animals lead a miserable life, so do the humans who live near the concentrated confinement camps. Nine billion animals are killed yearly for food in the US, so that a people who used to think chicken every Sunday was high living now eat dead animals for every meal, usually deep fried in corn oil. High frutose corn syrup is added to almost all processed foods, and to the sodas which have gone from 8 oz. to 20 oz. over the past decades.

The result? Obesity rates in the US have skyrocketed, along with the rate of diabetes. 75% of Americans are now considered either overweight or obese. It is interesting to see that farm subsidies are never mentioned as the source of the 500% increase in obesity since 1975. As with the skyrocketing unemployment rates, individual Americans are blamed. Just as no one ever asks why 20 million unemployed Americans became "lazy" in the last 10 years, when globalization increased the numbers of factories moved out of the country, no one ever asks why so many Americans lost their willpower when the farm subsidies started. Instead, they are sternly lectured on healthy food choices.

Americans don't eat all of the surplus, of course. The rest of the overproduction is burned in cars or shipped overseas.

The effect of NAFTA on Mexico is instructive. In 1995, one year after NAFTA, Mexico imported 30,000 tons of pork, rising 25 times, to 811,000 tons by 2010. That means that 4,000 Mexican pig farms went out of business. Corn imports rose from 2 million tons to over 10 million tons.

The rate of poverty in Mexico rose from 35% to 50%, and millions of Mexicans were pushed off the land. Many went to live in the slums of Mexico City, but millions came to the US, where they went to work on our farms and slaughterhouses. In 1990 there were 4.5 million Mexican born people living in the US. By 2008, there were 12.68 million. Their increased numbers are used to divide the working class of the US, and to increase support for decreased freedom of movement for us, along with calls for Big Brother-like biometric IDs for all, to be handed over on demand to the new Homeland Security employees.

Our slaughterhouses became more cruel, as the nine billion animals to be killed were brought to fewer slaugherhouses, and the assembly killing lines sped up. Workers were injured by the speed-up and tales of animals not yet dead being boiled or skinned alive spread.

The story is the same across the globe, as US economic and military might is used to force countries to open up to US farm products and Monsanto seed. Monsanto now supplies 25% of the world's seed, and they are using all their power to prevent peasants from doing what peasants have done for 10,000 years, save seed for next year's planting.

When the US invaded Iraq, the cradle of civilization, the birthplace of agriculture, one of the edicts forced upon that country was that Monsanto was turned loose to sell seed yearly to the farmers.

It is estimated that in India, every 8 hours a farmer commits suicide, frequently by drinking a bottle of Roundup, the Monsanto product that drives farmers into bankruptcy and despair.

In South Korea,opening Korean markets to cheap foreign imports devastated Korean farmers. Since the 1995 Agreement on Agriculture, Korean farmer debt grew four-fold to approximately $30,000, forcing millions off their land and into poverty. In 1970, farmers made up 44.7 percent of the Korean population. By 1995, only 11.6 percent were farmers. It was a South Korean farmer who killed himself in 2003 at the Cancun meeting of the WTO.

Haiti was self-sufficient in rice production 30 years ago, and now relies on cheaper imports, resulting in the same story: peasants forced from the land and into the cities, where they provide a cheap labor force for US multinational corporations.

The Earth now has 7 billion people crawling over its surface, with, for the first time, more than half of them living in cities, instead of the country.

Are these former farmers drawn to the big cities for a chance to live out their dreams of living in a loft and exploring their artistic sensiblities? No. What are called "mega-cities" are actually enormous open-air slums, with people crowded into shacks built from scraps in cities such as Mexico City, Lagos and Jahkarta.

The story is similar all over the world. The last 30 years of neo-liberalism, gone into high gear after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the New World Order proclaimed by the first Bush, which was the triumph of imperialistic capitalism, with the WTO and GATT agreements turning sovereign governments into signing agents for multinational corporations to take over economies.

As much of the remaining undeveloped world,( which is code for the last of our remaining original planetary ecosystem), is razed and turned over to plantations and farms using genetically modified organisms, we humans, who evolved in the Holocene era, with its mild climate and diverse biosystems, are facing disaster.

Monsanto is the poster child of evil corporations, with its drive to monopolize the genetic material of all food plants on Earth, and its salesmen, lawyers and goons making life miserable for so many farmers around the world. But it's not the only one.

Either we break the control of the corporations over our lives, and the lives of all other species on our planet, or we, and they, perish.
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Spiritually Dead

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death". Martin Luther King, Jr - April 4, 1967

45 years later, we have reached official spiritual death. When the official voices of the United States of America openly celebrate and justify torture, assassination, unprovoked aggression, endless war and prison without charges or trial, when the ruling class breaks laws with impunity while the working class is imprisoned for owning plants or other trivial offenses, then we have reached spiritual death.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke, the US still pretended to believe in the rule of law, elected officials tried to avoid appearances of impropriety, there were very few lobbyists on Capitol Hill, and the President called for a Great Society, in which the poor would be uplifted. There were about 500,000 Americans in prison. Now there are over two million. In the 90s, millions were thrown off welfare, and now they are going after the safety net for the elderly.

Now the President only speaks of the "middle class", while cynically appointing bankers to his cabinet, including the new Chief of Staff, who bet against homeowners during his time at Citibank.

I heard a speech by the ex-president of Amnesty International. He said that people asked him how he could continue day after day, while being overwhelmed by the evidence of torture around the world.

Because, he said, history is never over.

Yes, they told us in the 90s that history was over, and the US had won, and there was now a New World Order, in which the US reigned supreme and would forever rule all the peoples of the world. And, for good measure, space.

And yet, history has moved on, and the US has turned on its own people now.

We need a rebirth of values. We need to start talking again about peace and justice and freedom, We need to talk about economic democracy and how to build a great society without oppressing or killing other people or the ecosystem.

We need to talk about living more lightly on the planet, without destroying the surface on which we evolved to get to the last bits of fossil fuels, and minerals. We need to live on what we have, even if it means changing the American lifestyle.

I know that Dick Cheny said that the American lifestyle was untouchable, but he's wrong. Anyway, how many Americans can fly on private jets to kill animals in Texas, Alaska and Wyoming, and then fly to Europe for lunch? Oh, that's right. 1%.

How many Americans can shoot someone in the face without repercussion? OK, the police, but only when they're on duty.

We can make a better world. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke for a more just society, but he was one of many people.

Langston Hughes was a great African American poet, and he spoke for a better America-

Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!
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