Saturday, December 14, 2013

Letter to Mother Earth News

Mother Earth News, to which I have subscribed for years, published an article about the CEO of Whole Foods, and his book on the wonderfulness of capitalism, and the many goods it provides. I wrote this letter in response.

To Mr. Welch,

I was disappointed that you could be swayed by John Mackey's paean to capitalism, as evidenced by his self-identified wonderfulness.

The "free market" that we have all been raised to believe is the only way to provide for human needs, is actually that which leads to environmental devastation and the eradication of indigenous cultures, as you mentioned in the beginning.

The eradication of indigenous cultures is not something that stopped when the last Native American was killed or put onto reservations. It is going on today. John Mackay celebrates the fact that most people today make more than $1 a day. What does this mean?

It means that the last hunter gatherers, subsistence farmers and tribal herders are being driven from their lands and forced into gigantic slums, all over the planet, in order that capitalists can expand into their traditional lands. The Amazon people, people of the Congo, Indonesian hunter gatherers, people living in the jungles of India - all under attack, whether from dams flooding their homelands, to armies hunting them down, to deforestation, to climate change. I read the account of a man forced from his home in the jungle to live in Calcutta, who said that he used to have 40 kinds of fruit to choose from, but his children have never tasted fruit. Even though he probably makes more than a dollar a day, and therefore John Mackay counts him as a success. Billions of people who never needed money to live, now are forced to, and this is a good thing?

That is a bizarre thing to hold up as a triumph of capitalism to Mother Earth News readers, most of whom are trying to live on less money, with more happiness, as I understand them.

The "free market", which means producing for profit instead of needs, has led to the horrendous environmental destruction that we see today. Capitalism must grow or die, boom or bust, expand or shrink. This is why we send our military into other countries to "open their markets". Why we keep making consumer goods long after our needs are sated. Why we are bombarded with advertisements telling us that we must buy more to make us happy. That is why there are floating islands of plastic in the oceans, along with mountains of trash on our lands.

And why, when we have enough washing machines, or TVs, or boats, the factories shut down, and people are thrown out of work.

We have 10,000,000 empty houses, and millions of homeless people. How is this rational? And the talking heads on TV and in the White House tell us "Housing starts are up!! The economy is recovering!" And we're supposed to cheer? That more McMansions are being built on former farmland or in the deserts? That forests are being razed to build houses that no one can afford? That community tax money is being spent on expanding infrastructure to the farm fields, or deserts, instead of meeting the needs of the citizens? We know damn well that those houses are not being built to house the homeless, as they would be in a rational society. No, this is freedom, right here in the USA. We don't build houses for the homeless. We don't grow food for the hungry. That would be a planned economy, and therefore anathema.

Most of the advances attributed to capitalism over the last 200 years are actually human beings finding new ways to use fossil fuels to do the work that human labor used to do. Of course, the dependence on fossil fuels is now leading to mountains being blown up, and pushed into valleys, vast oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, Nigeria, and other places, tar sand devastation of the beautiful province of Alberta, national parks being destroyed, mass extinctions of the beings with which we share the planet, and the very climate in which human beings evolved being permanently altered.

John Mackay doesn't like regulations. Which ones? The ones that protect workers? He wants to go back to the 19th century, when millions of workers were killed in the mines, foundries, factories, and railroads? Or maybe he doesn't like consumer regulations, which make sure that our milk isn't really chalk, our toys don't contain lead, and our dog food doesn't kill our dogs. Or is it environmental protections he frowns upon? Let the rivers burn! Along with our tap water.

It is unbelievable that Mackay would hold up mass education as a capitalist achievement! Are you kidding? It is governments which provide universal education, as profit-driven education leaves out the majority of the people. And revolutionaries usually put health and education at the top of the list of improvements for the people, when they manage to overthrow capitalist governments. And the US, when it attacks revolutionary governments, usually attacks schools and clinics, teachers and health workers, in order to destroy such governments. Check out Witness for Peace for documentation.

To blame consumers for the state of this planet is outrageous. Who would choose to destroy the environment? Who would choose to have a billion people starving to death, while a billion are obese? Who would choose to have endless wars to take other people's resources?

Picture yourself trying to explain our present state to a visitor from outer space. How do we organize our societies? How do we take care of our needs? Why do we spend so much of our resources on war?

Go ahead. Explain to a visitor who hasn't been brainwashed from birth about how wonderful our system is, how it "works".

I have been brainwashed from birth, being born and raised in the USA, and even I can see that this is not working. We are very near destroying our entire beautiful planet, or at least the outer rim on which we live, and it is intolerable to see my favorite magazine laud the achievement.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Trying Again for Congress

Like a good Green, I am reusing my program from 2012. Unfortunately, it is still relevant.

We still have tens of millions of unemployed citizens, so my call to put Americans to work rebuilding and repairing America stands.

We still have repression, persecution and spying going on, so my call to repeal the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act and the NDAA still stands. We now know that the government is monitoring every American's every communication, which is blatantly unconstitutional and must stop.

We still have ocean acidification, air pollution and devastating climate change, so my call to rebuild our energy and transportation infrastructure still stands.

I called for the repeal of NAFTA and CAFTA, in order to rebuild our productive capacity in the U.S., and stop the emmiseration of the peoples of Mexico and Central America. We now know that Obama is working on a plan to extend the power of multinational corporations, and give up far more national sovereignty to those corporations through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is being negotiated in secret, not only from the American people but from Congress, which Congress has permitted without asserting its authority.

There is something very, very wrong with a Congress that gives up its Constitutional powers so readily to an Imperial Presidency. Only the Congress has the authority to declare war, yet it has permitted this president to commit numerous acts of war against a number of nations. The Congress is to make the budget, and it is also to give an account of its expenditures to the American people. Yet we spend billions of dollars each year on “black budget” expenditures that are kept secret from the American people. Without an open and accountable government, Americans have no reason to call our political system a democracy or a republic.

Who would vote for this? Who would vote for homeless veterans to sleep in the woods, while private jets fly into Southern Illinois Airport to refuel with taxpayer subsidized jet fuel? Who would vote to take food from hungry children while the Federal Reserve gives $85 billion a month to Wall Street bankers? Who would vote to allow fossil fuel companies to contaminate their fresh water with toxic chemicals in order to fracture the very bedrock on which they live?

Anyone who votes for the corporate candidate they think is less evil is voting to continue business as usual: The business of lobbyists openly buying votes from the representatives of the people. The Constitution names bribery as a reason for impeachment, yet the numbers of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. and expenditures for lobbying have skyrocketed since 1970, and it is now accepted practice for lobbyists to actually write bills for Congress. This is corruption at its most blatant.

Anyone who votes for the corporate candidate they think is less evil is voting to continue endless war and homeland repression, since both corporate parties support these policies.

Anyone who votes for the less evil corporate candidate is voting to attack Social Security and Medicare, since both corporate parties claim that deficit reduction needs to come from these programs. This is based on a blatant lie, since anyone can look at their paycheck and see that Social Security and Medicare are separately funded programs.

I am running for Congress in 2014 as the Green Party candidate because the people of Southern Illinois need and deserve a representative who will raise a voice for genuine representative democracy, for standing up to an executive branch that has become too powerful and unaccountable, for putting an end to senseless wars with their enormous waste of money and resources, for protection of the land, water, air, and climate on which our lives depend, rather than allow them to be ravaged and devastated for the profit of a few. We need and deserve a representative who believes that every American deserves a decent life, and that responsive government, serving the needs of all the people, not government in the service of the 1 percent, is the way to attain that goal.

It’s a tough job to run against the candidates of the two corporate parties that will spend millions of dollars flooding the airwaves trying to persuade voters that more of the same is the way to go, or that, “the other guy is more evil, so you better vote for me.” But somebody has to do it, or things will never change for the better. I am ready, willing and able to run in 2014 to ensure that voters will have the ability to make this choice for a better future
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Friday, November 1, 2013

Second debate closing

I'm sure most of you have played the game of Monopoly, which first became popular during the Great Depression.

We know that at some point in the game, one person inevitably controls all the property and money, cackling as they collect more and more money from those who land on their spaces.

Unfortunately for us, our country today strongly resembles a game of Monopoly -- except it's a rigged game in which the “banker” get to play the game with all of the money. This new player – call it Wall Street – not only owns Boardwalk and Park Place but Pennsylvania Avenue, and a nearby property called Capitol Hill. And they’ve rewritten the rules to benefit them.

They have taken the power to put common people directly in jail for trivial offenses while they get an unlimited supply of Get Out of Jail Free cards. They’re taking the houses of people on Baltic Avenue through fraud and perjury. They are trying to make it so no ordinary player can collect $200 when we pass Go. They have robbed millions of the opportunity to earn any money and jack up the price whenever we land on the Electric Company by keeping us addicted to ever more costly fossil fuels. They are trying to privatize the Water Company. They've replaced most of the railroads with expensive gas guzzling cars. They lend us money but charge predatory interest rates as part of the bargain.

They even threaten the people who prefer to play Parcheesi.

It's time to reset the game.

We need people in Congress who will make sure that fair rules are made and followed, who will protect public property, who will make sure that the top 1 percent are taxed fairly, that money is distributed fairly, that everyone has an opportunity to continue playing and earn a decent living, and who respect the rights of people in other countries to go their own way.

Our economy should not be an institution in which a privileged few are allowed to “game the system.” In fact it shouldn't be a game at all. The economy affects how we live, and our quality of life. We need to rein in those who are manipulating the system and institute new rules that give every child born in America an equal and fair chance to thrive. That is what I will do my best to create if elected as your next Representative in Congress.

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Obamacare and its Adherents and Opponents

Last year, when I ran for Congress, I was included in the debates.

At one debate, the entire audience, except for 6 Greens, were Democrats and Republicans, divided by an aisle, as if at a wedding.

The Democrat was defending Obamacare, while his people cheered, and the Republican was criticizing it, while his people cheered.

I was standing there, looking at these people, treating the election as some sort of sporting event, where they cheer on their team. I thought, I would really like to tell these people the truth, but that would be insulting both sides and I might lose potential votes. Nothing like telling hundreds of people that they are all behaving idiotically.

But I did it anyway.

I pointed out that so-called Obamacare was originally a Heritage Foundation-written, Republican-sponsored bill, but only Romney managed to push it through, so the insurance companies bought themselves Democrats instead, and now Democrats were cheering a Republican bill and Republicans were booing a Republican bill.

For a minute, everyone just looked at me. Then they went back to cheering for their team.
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Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Glory of War

The annual glorification of D Day, and the Saving of Europe by America has just passed. It's been almost 70 years, but Americans are still taught that fighting the Nazis justifies all that has come since then.
As a child, I was taught the party line about D Day. It was a big surprise, the Nazis were winning until the US invaded, we were giant heroes and deserved everlasting worship.

Imagaine my surprise when I read Anne Frank's Diary and she expressed impatience for the US to come to Europe's defense.

What? How could a teenager locked in an attic know about the Top Secret D Day plans?

I asked my Dad. He told me that FDR had promised Stalin in 194l, when the US declared war on Germany, that the US would open a second front to fight the Germans. But, we didn't. Not until 2 1/2 years later, when the USSR had managed to push the Germans back out of their country, and were pursuing them through the other occupied terrorities. (In the meantime, losing 20,000,000 people and undergoing destruction, starvation, rape and torture). Harry Truman, on the floor on the Senate, openly stated the US position - let the Germans and Russians kill as many of each other as possible, and then the US would move in.

Too late for Anne Frank, and millions of others.

My mom's friend participated in the invasion. He told her that he jumped in the water, made it to shore, and then hid until it was over. He didn't fight or kill anyone. In the book, "On Killing" by Lt. Col Dave Grossman, he points out that studies showed that only 15% to 20% of rifleman in the US military ever used their weapons in WW2.

This, of course, is a problem for the ruling class, which needs willing killers to perform their conquests.

The book was about how the US has managed to up the rate of killers in the military, with psychological manipulation and training, as well as the glorification of murder and the military throughout the US.

One of my friends was released from the military last week and announced it on Facebook. Everyone who commented ritually thanked him for his service. This genuflection has been drilled into the US public since Vietnam, and is as automatic as blessing someone when they sneeze. You are not allowed to talk to a soldier without repeating the mantra.

While I was running for Congress, I was on a talk show, and some irate soldier called to complain about my peace views and also to complain about how the military was being downsized and soldiers were having their pay cut.

I pointed out that the ruling class is turning to mechanized warfare, including robots and drones, and that they don't need actual unreliable human beings as much as they used to. I said that the rest of American workers had already been downsized and replaced by robots, so now it was his turn. "Welcome to the rest of America", I said, with not much sympathy.

The radio host said "Thank you for your service" before he disconnected the line.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Bluster and Bluff

As an ER nurse, I have a lot of experience with mentally ill people. There are times when they become angry and threaten various deeds.

But if a person is dressed in scrubs and in a room with a security guard at the door, and is screaming to kill me, or all of us, whomever.... do we nurses jump up and scream in terror? Do we scream back at him or her? Do we arm ourselves, just in case the person somehow gains a weapon and somehow gets out of the room and somehow comes at us?

No. We don't. We let them vent.

So why is the enormous country of the United States, the most heavily armed in the world, the one with bases in 180 countries, the one with spy satellites watching every move of people on Earth, pretending to be afraid of Kim Jung-un?

Frankly, I think it's embarrassing. We are constantly told by our corporate media that he is mentally ill. I don't know if that is true. His demands are reasonable. The US hasn't allowed any movement toward reunification in 60 years. It holds mantins bases in, and war games with South Korea. It threatens to use nuclear weapons "all options are on the table". And it has warships around North Korea and flies war planes over its terrority. Is it "crazy" to oppose such things?

It really doesn't matter what his mental state is. He can safely be ignored.

But our ruling overlords play us like patsies. If they want a war, they pick a victim, ramp up the propaganda and watch as obedient Americans shiver in fear as directed, and dutifully chant "USA, USA" as they hurl insults at the designated victim, and cheer on the bombs dropped on the people of the victim's country.

It's not a pretty picture.
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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Outlawing Hunter Gatherers

While the imperialist juggernaut continues its assault on the world's remaining traditional hunter gatherers, it is turning its vicious attention to those here at home who have been forced into the hunter gathering life by industrial and finance capital.

Yes, while there are still people on the planet who live in the ways of their ancestors, whether it be herding caribou, or gathering ants, people in the US who are the earliest vicitms of the 1% tend to eat day old donuts, or discarded hamburgers. Some are fed by well meaning fellow citizens in park gatherings.

Now, our ruling class is cracking down on those who can't afford to buy food, AND those who provide food for them.

From locking up dumpsters to outlawing Food Not Bombs, our ruling overlords are trying to make sure that those forced from participating in the money economy do not eat.

If the system isn't working for all the people, it's time to change it.

Thanks to those who missed me. I was caught up in my political campaign, and then I was rather depressed that only 5% of my fellow citizens wanted to save the planet and stop the wars.
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