Monday, August 4, 2014

You're dropping your tax dollars into a Black Hole.

Everyone agrees: You're dropping your tax dollars into a Black Hole.

It's true: The department with the biggest budget has NEVER been audited. There is NO accountability at the Pentagon.

Even though the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 requires ALL federal agencies to pass a yearly audit, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has never been audited. In a recent report the Government Accountability Office stated that the Pentagon is not consistently able to “control costs; ensure basic accountability; anticipate future costs; measure performance, maintain funds control; and prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse.”
The Tax Dollars BlackHole
According to CA Congressional Representative Barbara Lee, "Defense spending is essentially a black hole and the DOD faces no accountability in how it spends taxpayer funds."

Lee and three colleagues have committed to curtail billions of waste, fraud, and abuse. Together, they have introduced the bi-partisan Audit the Pentagon Act of 2014. This should be a no-brainer, no opposition vote because "tales of waste and irresponsible spending – including off-the-books payouts to foreign governments – from the Pentagon are rampant. "

The Act would require the Pentagon to pass an independent external audit -- or face a .5% reduction in discretionary funds. The new bill, H.R. 5126, sidesteps previous objections to treating the Pentagon as a “monolith” by requiring each individual agency to be responsible for passing an audit.

Everyone agrees it's time to cancel the blank check. In fact, The American Conservative reports the Audit the Pentagon Coalition has secured diverse endorsements for the bill. According to Rafael DeGennaro, “It’s backed by a broad coalition: from Grover Norquist on the right to Ralph Nader — who endorsed it only recently — to Code Pink on the left.”

As Lee noted, "[B]eing patriotic does not mean blindly accepting bloated Pentagon spending.”

If you agree there are better things your tax money could do, you can be a citizen cosponsor of the bill now @ http://pentagonaudit.com/.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

How to stop being a doormat

I'm tired of Corporations walking all over People! Their greed pushes them too often lately into bullying and abuse whereas America values public rights and the common good. Every chance I get, I stand up for my values and beliefs and let corporations and Congress know exactly what is right and good for humanity. Sadly, they have a lot to learn.

A while back, I blogged about nine-year-old Luke Sekera of Fryeburg ME standing up to a bully trying to abuse his town. When citizens refused to enter a 45-year contract with Nestlé to give up its water source to allow the megacorporation to bottle it under the Poland Springs brand, Nestlé sued the town. Standing up for their rights has been costly, and sadly, the bully still hasn't stopped. Today Story of Stuff wants to help the town stand up to Nestlé.
Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck thinks water isn't a public right.
Claiborne Deming at the Story of Stuff reports that "Fryeburg is the testing ground for Nestlé's goal of water rights’ contracts that will last for generations. [...] Nestlé has shown that it will do whatever it can get away with, from causing local wells to run dry in Pakistan to pumping out millions of gallons during drought conditions in Canada and California." Fryeburg residents are suffering the result, forced to buy back their own water, bottled, for Nestlé's profits.

"Nestlé has planted its presence in Fryeburg and its schools because it wants the local children to grow up assuming their local water should come in plastic bottles. To teach them that it comes from Nestlé, not from the tap.  But imagine if the residents of Fryeburg had their customized water bottles, which they filled up directly from their local springs.  Above each of the 'hydration stations'
 will be a plaque with information and an inspirational quote about their natural spring water. Each day, the kids tote their water bottles to school, and every time they fill them up it gives them a sense of pride in their natural spring water, reinforcing that they don’t have to depend on Nestlé for their water."  Your donation can help make that happen.

And tell Nestlé that water is a public right that they should stop trying to privatize. Support that petition to keep water resources in the public domain

Monday, June 16, 2014

How could it make sense for US to pay reparations for slavery?

Just the idea of a current population receiving payment for some generations-ago wrong sets a lot of red flags waving. While it seems justice might be served if one-on-one individual wrongs could be compensated, to trace generations of inequity to a current reality seems logistically impossible. The concept seemed so ridiculously complex that just contemplating it has always seemed prohibitive.
TinCan for collecting Reparations
So I've been skeptical about the idea of reparations. Who would pay and who would be paid? How would it work? And most of all, how could it possibly be equitable?

Now, I've read Ta-Nehisi Coates's The Case for Reparations in The Atlantic, and he's convinced me to take a different perspective. He says,
wrestling publicly with these questions [about reparations] matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced. An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future.

Looking back, I've lived a pretty whitewashed life.

In the Sixties, I believed, the US was successfully eliminating racism. Growing up in suburban NY, I didn't give much thought to the one black family who lived quietly across the street. I attended an integrated school system; blacks and Puerto Ricans bused in from the Projects sat next to me in class, but it never crossed my mind that their lives were different from mine.

I've always thought that the news media was fairly representative of reality, even if each slanted stories toward its owners' political agenda. I could see why racial tensions ran high in the Fifties. Clearly there were Civil Rights inequities, and the Great Society legislation was an essential corrective step toward equality under the law.

I admit to being shocked in high school when my mother took me along to "rent" an apartment as part of an equal housing investigation and we were offered the unit that the minority family had been told was rented. The discrimination just made no sense to me. I have never been able to fathom why anyone would prejudicially exclude or deprecate another or waste their potential. But after the Sixties' Civil  Rights victories in Congress, much of the racially divided reactivity seemed to be a result of overwrought hype. After all, the reforms made things better.

As I went through employment and housing and educating my child, it never occurred to me that there were still disparities in how people were treated. I lived in DC and on the poor side of Nashville; as a foster child advocate, I saw people in low income housing with more high end electronics than I could afford, so how bad off could they really be. After the bubble burst, my condo complex filled with foreclosures, but that seemed more a result of the economy, our flood damage, and HOA ineptitude than racial discrimination. I thought the disparities I saw were a matter of corporate greed and personal priorities rather than public policies.

Looking around, my view has been colored by White Privilege.

Before last year I was viscerally aware of Male Privilege and Class Privilege, but I was simply colorblind to White Privilege. When I first read about White Privilege, my lived reality of Male Privilege made my AHA moment more sad acknowledgement than shocked epiphany. I'd always thought it unfair to leave people locked in a cycle of poverty without providing any means to improve. I'd railed against educational misdirection and prisons as punishment rather than rehabilitation. But I'd never considered the institutionalized biases that lay the foundation for societal collusion.

For a long time, I had believed in America as a meritocracy. I thought being smart and being right created progress. I bought in to the American Dream and worked hard to earn my share. After decades of effort that wasn't enough to burst through the glass ceiling, the collar I wore was ostensibly white, but its pink stains ensured any ring I chased would turn out to be brass rather than gold. Still, it took years more to realize that the futility of my quest was an intended consequence of Privilege Culture.

When you realize the field is uneven, it's wise to stop playing the game that's stacked against you. The problem, of course, was that having internalized the rules so well, I still habitually continued the same ignorant patterns, benefitting without awareness of my part of Privilege, though fully aware of its constraints. I didn't realize until I took my Privileged lenses off, how multi-dimensional the rules of Privilege are.

As I paid more attention to the metaphors of living, it became easier to recognize other built-in rankings of the system. He rules all pronouns (and is therefore God). Kings trumps queens. Life is a battle with winners and losers. More is better. In this Black and White world, you're either wrong or right. And if you have power and might, you will always lord it over ALL.

History sets these rules in, if no longer stone, well documented texts. Certainly my history classes in school had whitewashed a world of historic information. Much of what I'd learned, not just about slavery but about the Jim Crow era and American Apartheid was muted into tolerable tones. But even beyond schoolbook history, my view of much of what has happened during my own lifetime of participation and witness has been skewed not just by Class Privilege but by White Privilege.

As I read more over the past year, I learned about the systemic ghetto-ization of the north during the migration out of southern oppression, and I began to comprehend better the culture that perpetuated what my Nashville friend Cassandra called Colored Time and her resentment of The Man. I could see where her attitude arose. Not only were neighborhoods redlined and education and opportunities limited, but there was no happenstance or choice to the racial divide; it was systemic and intentional.

Separate was never equal, and integration did little to mitigate the starting inadequacies of multigenerational poverty and the continuing institutionalization of inequity. Further, those in power knew the cause and effect of the systemic discrimination, tokenly addressed it, and intentionally ignored real resolution. As President Lyndon B. Johnson said in 1965,
These differences [between Negro and white poverty] are not racial differences. They are solely and simply the consequence of ancient brutality, past injustice, and present prejudice.
In the Sixties, I thought LBJ was advantageously exploiting the momentum of an unstoppable Civil Rights movement. I thought he and sane national leaders recognized the impropriety of the status quo and that with the Great Society legislation as codification of America's true values, equality was finally not only on the books but truly launched.  I imagined that every person was poised to fulfill their potential. It took a while before I noticed that the ensuing years kept everyone frozen in place, gazing into a draining pool of possiblilities.

Looking ahead, I see how oppressively enmeshing Privilege Culture still is.

Safari parks put people in a caged vehicle to drive through the zoo. Privilege Culture is like that, displaying its rich and famous opulence for all to see while carefully constraining where the observers can actually go and what they can do.

We hear about the 1% and we see the devastating effects of their choices on programs and policies that support majorities of the American people. My vote and my power have been co-opted by the 1% elite. Greedy corporations advance their own short-term profits, summarily dismissing long term consequences not only for the climate and environment but also for the economy, the broader community, and all future potential.

This exclusionary Privilege myopia ignores the needs of real people as cavalierly as medieval kings did. And just as in feudal society's pyramidal hierarchy, Privilege Culture structures its spheres of influence as rigidly as any caste system. The impenetrable glass ceiling through which I might longingly gaze is only one dimension; today's cunningly crafted cells constricting multiply-unprivileged individuals are as straight-jacket tight as the noose of its mob enforcement terrorism was.

My vision of equalizing changes my granddaughter's future needs is so much broader than the simple leveling changes necessary to bring impoverished children and deprived minority families to today's starting point. And there lies the crux of reparations.

Correcting Privilege Culture takes more than rules.

Emancipation and Civil Rights: The rule changed but  not much else.
Juneteenth famously celebrates the nominal end of slavery, but in the century after June 19, 1865, little changed. As well-meaning as the Civil Rights legislation of the Sixties was, it wasn't enough to overcome Privilege-wrought history and its intentional, systemic oppression. A piece of paper cannot correct ancient brutality and past injustice, and laws have proven to be dauntingly ineffective for improving present prejudice.

Without "wrestling publicly" with the multidimensional abuses of Privilege Culture, we'll never recognize the formidible barriers today's unspoken rules erect around free choice. As African-American law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw said, "Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability and ethnicity.” This intersectionality, as she called it, permeates the rules of our society's Privilege Culture in a complex, constrictive, and toxic formula of oneupmanship.

Until we disentangle the well-integrated societal infrastucture, the plethora of petty Privilege Culture patterns will continue to intersect in lethal constrictions preventing progress. It isn't just each more-oppressed group that suffers from being held down and back; it's the entirety.

Without a dialogue about equity and fairness, nothing will change; those who exert domination will continue to believe it is the only way. Until they hear and see and recognize and understand that there is another way, their myopic Privilege Culture viewpoint will blind them to options.

As long as might is equated with power, it will claim its right to unilateral domination. It's not just bombs and automatic weapons that create the devastation: it's the people whose war-based worldview make them willing to crush others to usurp their share. Warmongers think nothing of wreaking devastation on whatever is in their way. From that war-culture mindset, the 1%'s NRA-directed minions arm the world with weapons of mass destruction -- of both the physical and metaphoric kind.

We live in a world riddled with gut-piercing poverty. We suffer the false promise of representation. We endure the abuse of systemic inequity.  Until we stop following the rules, we'll continue to accept the patterns of oppression as if they are the way of the world.

Effective reparations create change.

If we think today's world is unfair, the question can't be Should we pay reparations for slavery? Of course we must. But then we owe an awful debt to the Native American population, too. While those societal burdens can't be questioned, what we have to wonder is how can we ever repay the ongoing abuse of so much unearned Privilege. And yet, the question can't become a debate of how much which individuals should get because we all remain enslaved, downtrodden, and abused to some extent, beholden mentally and emotionally if not also financially to the systems established by the ruling 1%: earning wages, profitting from stocks, hedging against the future, scrambling desperately for More.

The system has shifted little in millennia, and we are all living as if this is the only way the world can operate. Fixing what is wrong, though, means we must question the pyramidal assumptions of Privilege Culture's multilayered intersectional infrastructure.

Unless we are able to settle the reparations issue in a way that enables every person to have equal opportunity to achieve their full potential, we haven't addressed the fundamental disparity. It isn't a matter of paying; it's a matter of playing fair. What's needed is not a token transaction; what's needed is a total regauging, a systemic shift, a paradigm realignment. Until we all realize that getting mine at the expense of yours is the essence of the problem, all the money in the world won't correct the matter.

The correction reparations seeks must be an ongoing rebalancing, not a temporary analgesic. Reparations must shift the balance not only of financial spoils but of power. To pay reparations must change the structure of our entire world.

Committing to reparations means we must ask not who gets how much but: How can we create the systemic underpinnings for equity and fairness? Considering our responsibility as a society for making reparations means we must enter the dialogue open to new ways not only of doing but of being. We must discuss how we can change the system to level the field, rewrite the rules, and change the governing metaphor of America.

When we view the success of reparations to be inclusivity and equity for all, seeking to redress old wrongs make perfect sense, not just for the descendants of slaves but for everyone.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Should YOU be worried about digital gerrymandering?

As Malcolm Gladwell's research on priming demonstrated: people remain unaware when their actions have been influenced by intentionally-engineered subtle references.

"Digital gerrymandering" is a type of priming that provides information about friends' voting preferences. In a 2010 research study on Facebook, "users notified of their friends’ voting were 0.39 percent more likely to vote" and a further ripple effect ensued. Considering that "George W. Bush won Florida, and thus the presidency, by 537 votes—fewer than 0.01 percent of the votes cast in that state," the effect of influencing a 0.39% shift in voter participation is significant.
Gerrymandering NOW: Elected Officials select their Voters.
If applied universally, priming might increase voter participation. But in a more Machievellean scheme, a well-funded politically-motivated effort to selectively apply one-sided priming related to a specific ideological agenda could influence millions of unsuspecting recipients and skew the vote dramatically.

Traditional campaigning to send volunteers into neighborhoods can't compete with huge companies using vast resources to selectively influence millions electronically. Just as Faux news viewers remain ignorant of opposing -- or even factual -- viewpoints, priming a vast subset of susceptible voters with one-sided thoughtless priming could produce an unfair election.

Given the machinations of ALEC to selectively redistrict, the already-voluminous political advertising of anonymous BigMoney PACs, and now expanded donations by the megarich, average citizens need to be very worried about the potential abuse of digital gerrymandering. Add to that access to NSA data that could be used to categorize everyone's digital opinions, and voting outcomes would become a foregone BigBrother conclusion.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Who should determine our future?

I want the leaders I look toward for guidance to be smarter, more forward-thinking, more able to see the bigger picture of what an action today means for results tomorrow.

Sadly, I look around today and don't see that forward vision in our leadership. Just because we've always done something doesn't mean it continues to be the right choice for today's world. As Darwin said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."
WE must be the change.

As I look at the institutions and practices we revere today, I see patterns for survival in a world that no longer exists.
  • We revere myopia. What were once forward-thinking enterprises are now entrenched in efforts to preserve practices that focus on immediate results without regard to inevitable subsequent consequences; that is short-sighted.
  • We are hidebound. Where once learning from the world around us was key to finding new directions for research and needs to be met, now only tried and existing pathways are considered; that is constrictive.
  • We retreat into fear. In a nation that once aimed for productivity and growth, safety and security have increasingly consumed resources, leaving nothing to invest in creativity and innovation to improve potential; that is the antithesis of progress and growth.
As long as we preserve what was at the expense of what could become, we fail to adapt. Darwin knew: entrenched thinking is preparation to fail.

Pushing to perpetuate short term profits without regard to the long-tail costs of those choices does not lead to success; it leads to disaster. When we ignore the best evidence because it doesn't fit with old expectations, we practice wishful thinking rather than making progress. To continue the same repetitious decisions better and faster only gets incrementally more of the same old dysfunctional results. Our current patterns are leading us toward a dangerous precipice that our forward-searching scouts are warning us about.

To do nothing different will lead us to the brink of a crisis that could be preventable if we take heed today.

Current risk assessment is crucial for long-term financial, sustainable success. America, indeed the entire world, needs to rethink current analysis to refocus on extended profitability rather than short-term cashflow. Today, Harvard students and faculty are urging Harvard Corporation, the world’s largest educational endowment, to take this long-range view and divest from fossil fuels.
Students and Faculty to Harvard: Divest from Fossil Fuels
Student leader Canyon Woodward calls it their "moral responsibility" to ensure that Harvard "aligns its institutional actions and policies with the shared interests of society."

Harvard as an institution, its faculty, and so many of its graduates provide national leadership. Students and faculty know that Harvard's awareness of changing worldwide priorities is essential in this transitional era, and they are poised to tackle the crucial issue of climate change and bring the dialogue about divestment into public view.

Woodward says, "We take this action with the conviction that Harvard can, must, and will be a leader in responding to the climate crisis. We owe it to the world’s less fortunate and to future generations to lead the way to a livable planet."

The rest of America has no less responsibility. It's past time to divest from future-risky policies, practices, companies, and industries.

No time is more crucial than the present to take a future-focused lead. We must realize that short-term greed won't create a better world for tomorrow. It is our responsibility to move into the future with a vision of sustainable, realistic, planet-friendly energy policies.

By taking a stand with Harvard visionaries today, we lead the way to a better tomorrow. Together, we can rescue our institutions, revive our communities, and realign with the self-sustaining ecosystem of our planet. The future is determined by what we choose today.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Isn't Net Neutrality a basic Internet Right?

There you are, working online, thinking you and everyone else have the same ability to access internet content. It's only right that we all want to be able to get our information, products, and services with equal ease.
Net Neutrality means equal internet access for all -- even this cat
But FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the rest of the Federal Communications Commission don't seem to think so. Even though millions petitioned for equal access to be retained, the FCC has just proposed rules that would end net neutrality. The proposed rules enable big corporations to have faster internet access, making smaller operators unable to compete.

To ignore the purpose of the internet -- free exchange of information -- and sacrifice small businesses and independent users to greedy giant corporations is the antithesis of the platform.

It is the job of the FCC to prevent unfair practices by industry. The FCC is supposed to support the needs and broadcast access of America's  millions of consumers. The proposed FCC rules make a mockery of their charge to protect consumers from unscrupulous industry tactics.

The Chairman, a former cable TV and cell phone industry lobbyist, is said to have drafted the new net neutrality-ending rules himself. Wheeler should go back to working as an industry lobbyist if he cannot understand the different purpose inherent in the FCC charge.

If you agree corporate domination of the internet is wrong, tell the FCC to revise its rules to reflect egalitarian access to the internet for all.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Who doesn't think corporations are people?

BIG Corporation -- little person
Do YOU think corporations are people? I don't, and I'm in really good company:
The Founding Fathers didn't make corporations people:
  • As colonists, to get around the monopoly of the British East India Company's tea trade, Americans smuggled in their own tea, which led to the Crown imposing the Tea Act as a bailout for the deeply indebted company, which in turn led to the Boston Tea Party rebellion.
  • Early Americans granted government charters to form business organizations to achieve one specific purpose and for limited duration. These "incorporations" were formed only to perform services for the common good that business people could not afford to undertake individually.

The 1886 Supreme Court didn't rule corporations were people:
  • In the case widely cited as establishing corporations as people, SCOTUS declined to consider that argument and ruled on other issues; however a court clerk took liberty in interpretting this to infer corporations had 14th Amendment protections when summarizing its key findings. (For more detail see post on corporate "personhood".)
  • Subsequent court cases have cited this erroneous digest as precedent. (This video shows the shocking timelines that further increased corporate dominance.)

Americans today don't support the idea that corporations are people:
  • In every one of the more than 500 communities -- conservative and liberal, urban and rural -- that have taken action on grassroots initiatives against corporate domination, strong majorities of 65% to nearly 90% of the voters supported resolutions to specify that corporations are not people.

If you're like most Americans, you, too, are fed up with corporate domination. It's time to do more than complain. It's time for all of us to advocate for human rights, to ensure social and economic justice, and to shift the balance of power by ending of corporate domination. It's up to us to build a vibrant democracy accountable to People, not corporations.

We the People have the power -- if we choose to exercise it.

It's up to US to demand that Congress respect its constituents instead of lobbyists' persuasions. It's up to US to tell corporations once and for all: Only human beings are People. It's up to US to support a petition for a Constitutional Amendment to put corporations in their legal place -- as a business, not a person with political control or free speech rights. 

It's time for us to form a coalition of People who support the We the People Amendment. Go to MoveToAmend.org to join the movement. 

And if you're in California, sign the petition for the Amendment initiative

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why call this the "Great" Recession?

If the Great Depression is the basis for labelling an economic blip "Great," this Recession can't be classified as Great. For a fiscal conservative, it is clearly an example of Poor choices, Poor economic policies, and Poor oversight that have not been corrected -- the mitigating outcome that enabled the 1929 crash to ultimately be labelled the Great Depression. In fact, the only people who could call the outcome of this recession Great are the excessively rich; for them, these post-crash adjustments have indeed been Great.
Reaganomics politicians laughing about their "Trickle Down" trick
Perhaps I criticize too soon. Perhaps all of the corrections are yet unknown and it is too early to evaluate the final results of this economic downturn. Perhaps we're only in the throes of the shakeout, and the angels of our better sense are still tending the wounded so they haven't yet got to the point of whispering inspired corrections into the ears of those who have the power to improve the situation. Perhaps, like after the Great Depression, happy days will be here again and prosperity will again become as viable as the American Dream once was.

But it seems like there should be some movement by now toward curbing the excesses and controlling the lack of accountability. It seems like by now we should recognize that the root of our Recession was nurtured by dismantling of the FDR reform programs that had held the financial systems in check. It seems like by now we should be getting closer to our own "3 Rs" efforts.

But right now, it looks like Relief, Recovery, and Reform are being blocked by the very institutions that took charge and demanded change the last time this nation's financial well-being was threatened by greed and corruption. This time instead of relief, all we see is austerity. Instead of recovery, all we see is perpetuation. Instead of reform, all we see is collusion. There's no conservation at all going on in any quarter.
Billionaire calling "Raise the Minimum Wage" greed
The fault is surely in our language: we're using "conservative" wrong. After all, it is patently untrue that a "conservative" system would allow a "conservative" government to launch a costly long-term endeavor while reducing revenue.  A true conservative financial approach would always balance expenses with sufficient revenue. A financial plan that increases costs while reducing revenue could never be called conservative; at best, it could be called a recipe for bankruptcy. To continue now to advocate the same failed approach is neither conservative nor the way to save the republic; it's a course toward insanity.
Professor trying to explain deficit budget
Let's explain this more clearly to some legislators who apparently are not schooled in economic reality. It's not fiscally conservative to spend more than you have:
  • To squander a trillion-plus surplus on an unnecessary war is like an heir to a fortune blowing his inheritance on floozies and booze.
  • Running up trillions in debt while slashing income taxes on those most able to pay is more like an out of control gambler getting in too deep with the loan sharks than a fiscally astute conservative planning for a financially responsible future.
  • And certainly using taxpayer funds to bail out the very people who caused the financial crisis in the first place is a misplaced correction, forcing the taxpayers into a bankruptcy spiral while allowing the bankers to avert their own Chapter 11s -- and then award themselves bonuses for squeaking out of the failure they deserved.
Yet, this muddled chaotic insanity is exactly the effect of policies advocated by those who are still claiming to be "conservatives."

Maybe we should explain again from another angle. Conservatives are people who preserve what they have:
  • A conservative homeowner makes repairs to keep up the value and useability of the property.
  • A conservative landowner enriches the soil and nurtures the animals to produce healthy yields.
  • A conservative manager provides equitable compensation, benefits, and advancement opportunities so employees are satisfied to make the effort that improves products and expands the market.
Conservative practices are win-win-win for the individual, the environment, and the nation.

Now, let's look at the reality of the practices advocated by these faux-conservatives:
  • Necessary infrastructure repairs have been ignored until interstate bridges are falling down.
  • Land (and air and water, too) is being polluted with toxic fracking residues and tar sands spills.
  • Workers are being shorted on wages and their benefits cut so that the wage gap between a full time employee at minimum wage (that is: 40 hours for 52weeks @ $7.25) and CEO pay has reached at least 1667%. (Do the math: $25million in pay and bonuses for the CEO / $15080). Of course most minimum wage employees aren't scheduled for the full 40hours since then the corporation would have to pay them fulltime benefits and besides many aren't even receiving the federal minimum because tip workers and the disabled are legally exempted. But whatever the reality, it is inequitable by any standards
Seriously considered, these practices have NOTHING to do with fiscal conservatism. The only thing they are conserving is their own steady stream of personal wealth.

To properly name the reality, we have to conclude: "Greedy Corporatists" caused the "Cataclysmic" Recession and are distorting the aftermath with faux news and legalized bribery to further increase Income Inequity and the upsidedown tax structure.
Cat unable to comprehend the Faux-Conservative budget
The only possible reaction a true fiscal conservative could have to this insane reality is to rant (hence this post).

Monday, March 24, 2014

What are Baby Boomers waiting for?

Author PJ O'Rourke seems indeed to be exactly what he says is wrong with the Boomer generation -- stuck on himself as typical, that is:  being "hopelessly ordinary in matters of race, class, gender identification and which section of Playboy he turned to first when he was 16" as if the only Boomer worth noting is a hetero white male.

Excuse me, but I'm a Boomer of a totally different persuasion. I never forgot the lessons of Spaceship Earth or Kent State. I remember we made a difference and know we still can.
The world we live in is still our choice.
After struggling to responsibly push for reforming the bureaucratic corporatocracy to match those Sixties values, I quit and made a better life for myself. For more than a decade, I've watched the demise of so much that could have gone better had the status actually changed instead of all those frat boys reverting to the Fifties quo as the model to emulate.

Sadly, he's right: too many greedy white males (and their copycat female counterparts) still despair while living without enough "love, happiness, experience, sensation, thrills, praise, fame, adulation, inner peace, and, as it turns out, money," unwilling to take responsibility for today's "big, broad problems" and making "an excuse for everything" as if they aren't accountable for the mess of the world we are living. If they don't figure it out pretty soon, they're going to be in for an even ruder awakening than the bumps of inertial slide they've already set the world spinning along on.

Fortunately, PJ's not totally right: I've befriended enough like-minded Boomers to discover I'm not the only survivor who valued the Spaceship Earth mindset enough to live it. We acknowledge PJ is right in this, at least: "We've reached the age of accountability. The world is our fault."

The difference is: we're still struggling to be responsible and do the necessary things to make the outcome different. We know it's time for all of us to view the world as it really is:
We're not making excuses. We're looking for ways to improve the world we all share. We're searching for ways not to pin the blame on the foolish bureaucrats and short-sighted corporate minions but to help them see that choosing better ways right now could still make a difference. We can still establish equity as the cornerstone of governmental decisions; we can still honor the values of SpaceShip Earth and save our planet.

We can still come together and learn from past mistakes and make better choices that create the lives all our hearts yearn for.

There's more than enough "love, happiness, experience, sensation, thrills, praise, fame, adulation, inner peace, and, as it turns out, money" even to go around. We just have to stop the foolish divide and dominate mentality that keeps us struggling separately.

No one of us can save the planet on our own -- but we also cannot do it without every one. Only you -- with ever other only you -- is what makes the result.
Only you -- with ever other only you -- is what makes US different.
Together, we have the capacity for synergy.On we -- together -- can change life on Earth.

We've seen the Earth from space; we know we exist on a small blue ball in a vast open space. Instead of divisively ruing that "everything you were ever told is wrong" we could be working together to save that small blue dot of a planet. By husbanding its dwindling resources and applying our vast human capacity for innovation, we still can create the better world our younger selves dreamed was possible.

Instead of despairing, though, we have to come together and act.