Archive for September, 2015
Read this: Funny how rewarding it is to discover an article that travels over ideas that you thought privy to only your own thoughts. Particularly, when those thoughts go beyond your own. You start to feel part of something that is, maybe, a lot bigger than just you and you are on to something. This article in The Daily KOS, by gjohnsit, did exactly that for me. As I have watched, read and studied the right wing control of the U.S. government, slowly undoing social accomplishments that took decades to enact, I heard others talking about the “rolling back” of the New Deal. But, although the specifics of the New Deal are probably the easiest to identify, what is happening seems to be bigger and more devastating. As gjohnsit says in this article, there are “trends which show the 21st Century is going to look a lot more like the 19th Century than the 20th Century.” The article focuses on these specific trends: Big Labor, The Second Gilded Age, The New Asylums, Worse than Slavery, Return of the Debtor Prisons, The Return of Preventable Diseases and The Return of Monopolies. The end goal becomes a “Return of Gilded Age Politics” which has “several distinct qualities: 1) blatant corruption, 2) excessive influence by corporations, and 3) neither political party distinguishing themselves from the other, especially in areas that involve significant reforms.” It sure starts to sound familiar to me. Click the link below for more details.
Watch this: AMY GOODMAN of Democracy Now devotes an hour with MIT professor, author, activist, political dissident, Noam Chomsky where he spoke to a packed audience at The New School here in New York City. As usual, Chomsky directly confronts the image of the U.S. that is so well orchestrated to ensure the our consensus that what the U.S. does is always right and just. Instead, this speech explains “why he believes the U.S. poses the greatest threat to world peace” and later he ” also explained why he believes the U.S. and its closest allies, namely Saudi Arabia and Israel, are undermining prospects for peace in the Middle East.” These are drastic deviations from the consensus provided by our government and national media and accordingly will shock the core of most Americans. Nonetheless, his arguments point to facts and the particular way those fact are conveyed, that we all need to hear. Maybe his different voice will open our eyes to the fact that we are a country controlled by people and organizations that don’t necessarily have ours’, much less the worlds’ best interests at heart. Rather than my further recapping his speech, please click on the link below and listen to Mr. Chomsky. If you are like me, you will want to hear more of what he has to say. And, we will all be better off for the time spent.
Watch & read: Inequality is all around us and expanding faster than Climate Change, but still nothing seems to happen to slow it down, much less stop or reverse it. Some of the candidates are talking about it and offer possible changes. American citizens have and continue to tell their stories before congress and other governmental organizations. Hollywood has made many movies (i.e. Wall Street, 1987) and TV shows, telling the message and books abound on the subject as well. Yet, far too many, on the short end of the inequality equation, seem totally ignorant or have blatant misconceptions. We all need help to understand this complex, though almost invisible plague on democratic societies. As long as corporations are allowed to have fictitious personhood, their dollars will continue to rule the information that is easily available. We the People need to actively seek other sources. Bill Moyer & Company, once again, have provided a timely video / discussion that can help here. The video on the link below takes a look at the problem by focusing mainly on a book published several years ago by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson. Together they authored Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, where they “argue that America’s vast inequality is no accident, but in fact has been politically engineered”. If you read nothing else on this subject you need to read this. They profess that there has been “30-year economic assault against the middle class”. I agree with Bill that their book is one of the best, showing “how politicians rewrote the rules to create a winner-take-all economy that favors the 1% over everyone else, putting our once and future middle class in peril.” It reads very easily and you will come away motivated.
Read this: The Mother Jones article in the link below, by Luke Whelan cites recent studies showing that “the Sierra Nevada mountain range’s snow pack levels this year are the lowest they’ve been for 500 years. That’s right, since roughly the year 1500.” This fact leads me to assume that the many Climate Change deniers are logically still living in the Dark Ages. True or not, as Whelan says, “this is bad news for Californians: Snowfall in the mountains can account for as much as one-third of the state’s water supply during a normal year.” This is just another small piece of evidence supporting that fact that Climate Change is real and it is here now. Yes, rain and snowfall vary greatly but as this study shows the last time it was this bad was around 1500. The sun supposedly revolved around the earth and we burned people at the stake for witchcraft. We have learned a lot since then, but right or wrong, we still cling to convenient rhetoric for political and short term economic purposes. Being wrong about whether the sun revolves around the earth or the earth around the sun is pretty trivial argument compared to having government and world leaders today who don’t believe in the science of Climate Change. Maybe it is time we (voters) all started applying a whole lot of pressure on our supposed leaders to act on our behalf and act now.
Read this: I have consistently focused on two major economic problems being the primary forces infecting our social systems, the ability to have a truly functional democracy and powerful current trend towards inequality. They are corporations (particularly multi-national corporations) and capitalism itself. The article in the link below, found on In These Times, by Slavoj ZiZek takes a deep look at the effects these two forces have on the EU Refugee Crisis. In this article ZiZek says that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of reaction (to terminal disease) denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance can be applied “to any form of catastrophic”. Thus he examines the refugee crisis in the EU and other places via these 5 stages.
Capitalism through its’ “illegal exploitation of natural resources”, dealing with warlords is today’s’ form of colonialism. “Congo no longer exists as a united state; it is a multiplicity of territories ruled by local warlords controlling their patch of land with an army which, as a rule, includes drugged children. Each of these warlords has business links to a foreign company or corporation exploiting the mining wealth in the region. The irony is that many of these minerals are used in high-tech products such as laptops and cell phones.” Corporations and capitalism are usually involved as states fail and “most of refugees come from the ‘failed states’—where public authority is more or less inoperative, at least in large regions—Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Congo, etc.” No surprise is that rich countries are much less likely to receive refugees than their poorer neighbors. Slavery, made profitable through capitalism and almost becoming extinct has revived “with the new epoch of global capitalism, a new era of slavery is … arising. Although it is no longer a direct legal status of enslaved persons, slavery (has acquired) a multitude of new forms…”.
Meanwhile a multituede of problems arise as the refugee crises force different cultures to mesh, particularly when the receiving cultures are already suffering their own “forced” effects of austerity. But these adaptations will have to happen, particularly as “rapid local and global changes in environment may require unheard-of, large-scale social transformations”. “New type of international interventions will have to be invented: military and economic interventions that avoid neocolonial traps. What about UN forces guaranteeing peace”. ZiZek sites many required changes and says “the most difficult and important task is a radical economic change that should abolish social conditions that create refugees. The ultimate cause of refugees is today’s global capitalism itself”.
Read the entire article for more details and a better understanding of how/where the 5 stages apply.
Read this: The ability to continually expand inequality in the U.S., or anywhere, is really a form of theft, “redistribution theft”. Like a ponzi scheme, in order for it to work, the party giving up something (usually money) must lack the knowledge or intelligence to make a different decision. CEO pay, worldwide, is a glaring example of the inequality problem and most Americans are far more ignorant than other citizens around the world. The Daily KOS article in the link below, by Laura Clawson sites “A new study from Harvard Business School finds that:
- Americans believe that CEOs make 30 times as much as unskilled workers.
- By contrast, Americans believe that CEOs should only make seven times as much as unskilled workers.
- In reality, CEOs make far, far more: 354 times as much in 2012, by some measures.
The American public is not even close. That same study finds the “gap between Americans’ perception and reality is the most among any of the 16 countries for which the researchers measured both the perceived and actual pay inequality.” It is hard to fix a problem if you don’t know it even exists. Americans need to wake up and our media needs to tell the story, over and over. Instead, the media has become an accomplice to this “redistribution theft” by their lack of coverage.
Watch and listen, really listen: Sometimes we don’t have to say anything, just listen. In the video from the link below, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, from The Environmental Children’s Organisation (ECO), addresses the very first U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Rio. After watching I thought, WOW this will have an effect. It has some real power and maybe it will catch the hearts and influence the actions of leaders around the world. What I didn’t catch, initially, was that the year was 1992 and though it was definitely a fantastic speech, deaf ears and existing agendas do not easily change. So much for the effect on those who could have actually done something. The second video shows Cullis-Suzuki 20 years later, now a mother herself, but still fighting as she recaps where we are today. Frustrated, but not quiting she says, instead of acting to change / correct the sources of the problem, leaders (in Canada, likewise the world) have moved “to gut conservation legislation, to devalue science and now to discredit environmental non profits in Canada. Finally, Canada left the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol, even though they were one of the first governments to sign back in 1998”. Her 1992 speech should be consistently played before environmental leaders, particularly where she says “You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. You don’t know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream. You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct. And you can’t bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert. If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!”.
Watch these two videos and and wonder, Why? How could they? How do we change this? The answer, like Tom Hartman says as he ends his radio and TV shows, “Democracy, tag, your it”. We all have to become players.
Watch this: The link below takes you to a very informative video narrated by Bill Putman, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The visual effects here are based on computer models. They dramatically show the effects, paths and concentrations of CO2 throughout the world and Putnam’s minimal narrations helps you better understand what you are seeing. Take a few minutes and watch.
Read this: As we deal with the facts that Climate Change is real, humans have largely caused it and it will be quite devastating, a question that we never really get to slowly seeps into our consciousness. That question is “What Will the World Look Like After Climate Change”? We have heard many general comments, but we seldom get into the details. As humans continue to destroy the world as we know it, a new one is beginning to evolve. Maybe we should look a little deeper and then, possibly, we might actually take some actions, late though they would be. The “Mother Jones” article, by Lizzie Wade, in the link below, looks at many of these changes in more detail. It focuses on three areas of change: “A Warmer Forest”, “An Acidic Ocean” and “A New Pecking Order”. The article summarizes saying, “Climate change will be the end of the world as we know it. But it also will be the beginning of another.” Take a look and absorb the real consequences of inaction. Lastly, become active.
Watch or read: One of my favorite old shows, The West Wing, abounded with great writing, on very real issues, that we sometimes still face today. The Daily KOS article below, by Jen Hayden, beautifully demonstrates an answer, more like a counter, to religious arguments focusing on the Bible and calling homosexuality an abomination. By demonstrating the selective use of the Bible to support some historical issues / practices and not others, it becomes crystal clear that things are just not that simple. After fictitious President Bartlett delivers his counter, everyone is left speechless and the room is silent. You can’t help but feel well done Mr. President. Too bad it is not always this easy, but if we arm ourselves with a little more knowledge maybe we can help to silence more of these feeble arguments.