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

Agribusiness

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,
America!


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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