Sunday, June 24, 2012
Is America Ready For Revolution?
I have always strongly believed that it's not possible to be a good Christian without standing up against social injustice and government corruption in all its forms. As I take a look around me today I find a lot of things wrong with our country. In fact, I have been a proponent for radical change for several years now, and I have written and published 2 books on this very topic. Where shall I begin? In God-blessed America, the land of the free where everyone is an economic slave, our founding fathers' sacred idea of a government "of the people, by the people, for the people" has become but a cruel joke. Former president George W. Bush has notoriously called our Constitution – our supreme law of the land – "that (expletive) piece of paper". The federal government is currently spending at least $60 billion per month on military excursions in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and northern and western Africa – including operating between 800 and 1,000 foreign military bases all over the world. Our country's over-used flying drone aircraft kills hundreds daily overseas, many of whom are only innocent bystanders.
Meanwhile here on the home front, one in seven people are on food stamps, and at any given time one in four American children are going hungry today. Our country spends more money incarcerating people than it does on education. What's up with that? Our political system is openly rigged against the best interests of the American people. A massive market mechanism is securely entrenched in our political system where political influence is openly bought and sold. Tens of thousands of highly-paid middlemen called "lobbyists" facilitate the legal transfer of billions between moneyed special interests and our so-called "representatives" in Congress. This very lucrative business of buying and selling political influence has become the driving engine of our government. Our so-called "representatives" in Congress vie for millions in legal bribes in return for delivering billions of our tax dollars to moneyed special interests. It's pure folly to think our current political system could possibly look out for the best interests of the American people.
Just ponder what our government has done to us (not for us) in the last ten years alone. It's utterly mind boggling. The best interests of the American people have been sacrificed to moneyed special interests time and time again. The banking industries paid millions in bribes for a legal license to steal billions from the American people. When greed got them in trouble, our so-called "representatives" gave them billions more of our money. After the health insurance industry paid its bribes, our so-called "representatives" refused to even consider single-payer coverage, despite its proven track record of providing cheaper, superior health care, and providing it to all citizens equally.
Instead, millions of Americans will continue to suffer (or go bankrupt or die) for lack of health insurance. I know this to be true because it has happened to me as well. If any policy would significantly reduce the profits of moneyed special interests, it's simply designated "off the table" by our so-called "representatives". In the last ten years, our so-called "representatives" shared nearly a billion dollars in bribes from the "defense" industry. In return, they doubled our defense budget to $700 billion (equal to all other countries combined!) and lied us into unnecessary, endless, expanding wars that will ultimately cost us trillions. This is aside from the extreme human costs of war with multiple consecutive deployments. For example, 1 in 5 returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have permanent psychiatric disabilities so severe that they will never work again. Speaking as a minister and lifelong peace activist, I find this to be utterly reprehensible on the part of the US military (Be all you can be? Yeah, right.)
Our so-called "representatives" are cutting social spending just when the American people need it most. Yet they continue to spend hundreds of billions on weapons of mass destruction to "protect us" from our enemies. But most of our "enemies" are purposely created by our government's blatantly unjust foreign policies (that openly support regimes that oppress millions of human beings) and by our violent military occupations of their homelands. Without a perpetual supply of "enemies", "defense" industry profits would plummet. If that weren't enough, our so-called "representatives" have worked hard to keep America the number one weapons merchant on earth. Our so-called "representatives" continue to support the sale of billions in weapons to oppressive regimes around the world, which creates still more "enemies", which creates more special interests profits, etc.
Our current political system guarantees our so-called "representatives" will continue to pass and sustain legislation that transfers billions of our hard-earned tax dollars to moneyed special interests. That's because members of Congress who oppose moneyed special interests are promptly punished, ostracized, or replaced (if their offense is great enough). For example, dare to oppose the AIPAC and your days in Congress are numbered. Just ask any congressman, starting with your own. Furthermore, our current political system guarantees both moneyed special interests and our so-called "representatives" must participate in this influence-peddling scam against the American people, mainly because they'd be stupid not to. Big corporations would be at a competitive disadvantage (and would likely resort to cheating their shareholders to replace lost profits) if they refused to buy political influence. Likewise, our so-called "representatives" would be at a competitive disadvantage getting elected or staying in office if they refused to sell political influence.
The upcoming national elections this fall are merely melodrama for the masses. Our "choices" have all been pre-chosen for us by moneyed special interests pumping millions into the process. Besides, whoever wins will be forced to play by established political rules that guarantee moneyed special interests will always come ahead of the American people's best interests. For weeks before the elections, the lackey mainstream media (using colorful pundits) entertain us with political melodrama. They arouse us by pitting one segment of the American people against another. They make millions bombarding us with empty, emotional, 30-second TV ads that are little more than name-calling or patriotic platitudes. Congressional elections are sheep fighting among themselves for their favorite pre-chosen wolves. Congressional elections merely determine which segment of the America people gets screwed by which moneyed special interests group.
Trying to reform our current political system using that very same corrupt system is just futile folly. It's like trying to fix your broken arms using your broken arms. It's like trying to start a car that is out of gas. Our current political system is designed to be reform proof. It has well-established mechanisms to protect and maintain the status quo. That's why "campaign finance reform" and all other such efforts to "reform" our current political system from within are doomed to either fail outright or be so watered-down as to be useless. All these outrageous government actions are exactly what we should expect from a government openly for sale to the highest bidder. “We the people” are just government-controlled fodder for moneyed special interests. Moneyed special interests paid for these outrageous government actions, and they got what they paid for. We, the people, got screwed. I have the solution to this problem, and it can be found in any English dictionary.
rev-o-lu-tion (Dictionary.com) 1. an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.
Our country's elections amount to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. We can't vote our government back to us. A peaceful, people's revolution is the only way we can take back our government. The multi-billion dollar business of buying and selling political influence (currently the driving engine of our government) must be overthrown, repudiated and thoroughly replaced if democracy is to survive in America. This massive influence-peddling scam must become our number one political issue because it underlies and thus greatly affects all other issues. If we don't get big money out of our politics, our democracy and our standard of living will continue to decline and surely we'll take the rest of the world down with us.
We can't afford to sit by like sheep meekly waiting for slaughter. We must find ways to hinder and harass the corporate state at every turn. Nothing will change unless we, the people, begin to organize radical acts of civil disobedience to disrupt our current political system, upping the ante until this massive influence-peddling scam is thoroughly exposed and eliminated. For example, in Iceland they arrested over 100 bankers recently after throwing the old government out of office peacefully but effectively. The citizens stood in the streets and banged on pots and pans, and they didn't stop until they got what they wanted. Then they wrote a new constitution and passed it into law. It's been reported all over the European press but largely censored here in the US. Is it any wonder? If there were enough people inspired by what happened in Iceland, it could happen here next. Well, what does the elite capitalists want? They can either allow what happened over there to happen here, or America will turn into another Greece, Spain, Ireland or Portugal. Or maybe even another Egypt or Syria. The only way to prevent this from occurring here is that “we the people” must take back our government by peaceful revolution because it will never be given back voluntarily. Remember what President John F. Kennedy said: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Immigration Issues And The Golden Rule
I am posting this in keeping with President Obama's decision this past week to take a more merciful stance on immigration. We all know, or at least have heard of, the story of the Good Samaritan as told to us by Jesus Christ. I recall mentioning it in last week's sermon, but this week I'm going to point this in a different direction. I won't quote the entire parable verbatim because my posting today is about how it applies to the subject of so-called “illegal immigration”. If I put the story into modern terms I can cite two different examples, one of how this could work out and the other as it actually did.
A certain traveler from a foreign country was making their way through the US seeking to find suitable work and re-establish themselves in their newly adopted country. While on their journey, this hapless foreign national gets jacked up, beat up, and left semi-conscious and bleeding on the side of the road. A short while later a religious leader and church pastor who are passing by see the beaten and now-penniless victim, pause for a moment and say a quick prayer, and continues on their way. A few minutes after that, a well-paid IRS agent passes by the man and doesn't even bother to stop and help even though he/she could have easily afforded to do so. An hour or two later, after this crime victim has been lying bleeding, severely injured and baking in the hot sun, a homeless man happens upon this person. This street person from the impoverished inner city (fill in the blank with the city of your choice) cleans up the victim's wounds as best as he can and then dials 911 on his/her prepaid mobile phone, summons medical assistance to that location, and waits for the ambulance to arrive while protecting this luckless individual from further injury and harm. Once the ambulance has picked the injured person up and taken them to the nearest ER, the homeless person who helped the injured traveler goes on their way, enjoying a quiet satisfaction within themselves at the good deed they have done. But they say nothing to anyone about it, not wanting accolades or applause from anyone, but only to do good and to be merciful towards all God's children. Blessed are the merciful, Jesus said, for they will be shown mercy.
Allow me to now present a somewhat similar story from the Internet, but the outcome is altogether different. A person from Central America gets severely injured in an auto accident through no fault of his own. He spends a lengthy time in the hospital recovering from his injuries and racks up a $1 million dollar-plus medical bill. In the end, he is deported to his country of origin because he was here illegally, even though he was still an invalid at the time of his deportation.
Basically, the Florida hospital had taken care of an “illegal immigrant” from the country of Guatemala for a period of almost three years at a cost of $1.5 million dollars. The hospital requested and received permission from the court to physically remove the patient from the hospital and send him back to Guatemala. The purpose of the posting was to get people riled up over so-called “illegal immigrants”. It basically states our rising health-care costs are totally due to caring for illegals, which simply isn't true, but that's a subject for another day. When I was reading the posting I wondered why this person had been hospitalized for a period of almost three consecutive years, and why the total cost was so low. I've been in the hospital a few times lately and $1,100/day barely gets you a bed, much less sheets and a pillow. At any rate, in the eyes of God there is no such thing as an illegal human being, and I think that those who think otherwise would do well to let go of their “wild west” ways. I say again – there is no such thing as someone who has no right to be here. At any rate, the foreign national's injuries happened as follows:
On April 5, 2000 a drunken Donald Flewellen, age 52, driving on a revoked license, borrowed a neighbor's vehicle and was involved in a hit-and-run accident in Fort Pierce, Florida. This accident resulted in two deaths and left Luis Jimenez, our Guatemalan illegal, a paraplegic with brain injuries. At the time of the accident, Flewellen had only been out of jail for four months for his previous conviction of two counts of DUI manslaughter. It appears Luis Jimenez was approximately 28-years-old at the time of the accident and in his early 30's when the Florida court approved his return to Guatemala, where he is now residing in a small mountain village in a one-room house with his mother. I'm curious as to how Americans would feel if the situation was reversed. What would happen if one of our youngsters was in a foreign country, legally or illegally, and suffered brain damage, and became a paraplegic at the hands of a foreigner, a foreigner who should have been in prison? What would you feel like if you were a mother and had your son returned to you, in the condition Luis Jimenez is in, and were expected to care for him for the rest of his life without any assistance or funds to provide assistance?
One of my pet peeves is Internet and MSM articles that take a stand on a subject without bothering to providing all the facts. The bottom line on this particular subject was – had the family of Luis Jimenez appealed the court decision on this case, Jimenez would still be in this country, and we would be “forced” to provide him with medical care. Decisions regarding the status of illegals are Federal, and State courts simply do not have the authority to remove individuals from this country whether they are here legally or illegally. Over and over again, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that illegal immigrants have the same constitutional rights as U.S. citizens and, until that is changed, federal law prevails.
Aside from the legal aspect is the moral aspect and morally, this country caused the injuries to this young man and it is our obligation to care for his needs. We are, after all, a Christian nation, are we not? Didn't Jesus heal the sick? Then we should be doing likewise, and those who disagree with me on this point have forgotten their Christian heritage, lost touch with their humanity, or both. When I was a kid, I was taught that kindness wasn't a choice, it was a command. It wasn't something you considered doing; it was an automatic reaction that came straight from the heart. We just did it because that's what Jesus would have us do. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
Let me be absolutely clear about what I regard as a travesty of justice. Immigrants, whether they are here legally or not, are not invaders from another country. They are economic refugees. I will use Mexico as an illustration, although the man in the story is from Guatemala. The average blue-collar worker in Mexico has a take-home pay in Pesos that is equal to about $50.00 a month in US dollars. When any given migrant worker comes to the US and takes a job at minimum wage, that works out to a net pay after taxes of about $840.00 per month for a single person, more than a sixteen-fold increase over what they used to make. Now, let us ask ourselves this basic question: if we were offered a job in our profession in Canada, for example, at sixteen times our current pay rate, any one of us would naturally be eager for the chance, is that not correct? Now you know why so many economic refugees from the third world are coming here, and it's not just from Mexico or Guatemala. They seek economic opportunity just like anyone else would, and it is a level of opportunity available in few places elsewhere.
So why does this issue upset so many people? America is and always has been a nation of immigrants. There has never been a time in American history when this was not so, not even in WWII. Every time we welcome one more immigrant into America, we take on the role of the Good Samaritan all over again. And that is a role we should all continue to emulate everywhere we go.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
What If Jesus Wrote A Letter To America?
If Jesus wrote a letter to the US population, what would He say to us? It would go something like this: Woe to you American Christians! You say I'm the "son of God" and yet you bully the defenseless, wage religious wars disguised as anti-terror campaigns, and trample the vulnerable underfoot in my name. Do you understand the parable of the Good Samaritan? Allow me to refresh your memory.
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: "Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replied, "What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?" The man answered, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you will live!" The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Jesus then replied with a story:
"A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Washington to New York when he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A rich man walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised African-American came along, one who had just been released from prison, and when he saw the man he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the ex-con soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he used his transit card and took him by bus to the homeless shelter where he was staying, where he took care of him. The next day he paid for a single night, telling the folks running the shelter, 'Here is the money for a night's stay here. I'm going to work as a day laborer early tomorrow morning, so please take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I'll pay you the next time I'm here.' "Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?" Jesus asked. The man replied, "The one who showed him mercy." Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same."
In case you missed the point of that parable as I'm quoted as telling it in the book of Luke, it was that the theologically correct evangelical born-again "saved" passed by on the other side of the road when confronted with a human being in need. It was the "unsaved" theologically incorrect foreigner, today's equivalent of your agnostics, Muslims, gay men and women, minorities and people of color, the unloved and the outcast who stopped and did my Father's will and took care of the injured man.
Put it another way: Did you miss the point when I said that those who come to me saying "Lord, Lord we followed you and believed correctly" are the very ones that I will cast out of the Kingdom of Heaven, since they did not care for the least of these, the downtrodden, the poor and the oppressed? Did you get it when I said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the humble, and the outcasts; those who mourn and to the poor in spirit? Who do you think will inherit the earth: the wealthy leaders of your colossal mega-churches or the downtrodden gays, minorities, peace activists, “occupyers”, foster kids, ex-cons, the mentally ill, and others who are scorned and mocked by society? Whose side do you think God is on: the bullied and outcast or the powerful religious leaders with their false smiles? Who will qualify for calling themselves my sons and daughters: The meek who mourn or the proud who say: "Lord, I thank you that I'm not like these gay men and women and these illegal immigrants, and these lazy poor people who deserve no health care and these Muslims?" You hypocrites! Don't you get it?
You say you take everything in the Bible seriously and yet you ignore all the many verses about divorce and adultery and somehow paper that over because a majority of America buys into divorce now and you don't want to lose your congregations. And half your pastors and religious leaders are divorced and remarried. But you stick it to gays and minorities because they are easy to pick on! Why wax moralistic about one thing you call sin and yet stick it to a minority? For instance, I actually broke the biblical law when I said that the people who brought me the adulterous woman should not stone her to death. In other words I said: "forget what the Bible says, only kill her if you're perfect." Well, no one was so they quit picking on her and left her alone. Since then I've given my followers that as a reason to ignore the dumb, harsh, and sometimes mistranslated parts of the Bible.
Did you get it when I said that if you lust in your heart it's the same as committing adultery? You twisted my words to make it seem as if I'm a moralistic "Church Lady" like you idiots, but I intended the exact opposite! What I meant was that since everyone lusts anyway, the difference between how we think and feel regarding temptation and what we do is painfully obvious in terms of how God sees us. The whole point was that we're not to judge other people because we ourselves think the same thoughts. So no one is better than anyone else. Remember what I said in my sermon on the mount? “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7, verses 1-2, NIV)
You judgmental holy rollers are like banks always making a mistake in their own favor! Why do religious so-called conservative Americans always pick on the little guy, the disenfranchised, blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, pregnant women, gay people? I'll tell you why! Because you are bullies! You are the Pharisees passing by on the other side of the road, those who are so sure you're saved because of some nonsense that you believe in my name. Wrong! You American Christians utterly defaced the name of Christianity with your racism, your slavery and your bigotry against women. And now you're doing it again in your war against gays and Muslims, your bogus drug war, and in your economic war against the poor who have no health care. Some of you even have had it as part of your wicked program to reestablish the Biblical law demanding death to gay people that I clearly showed must be broken by the greater law of love. Well, as you judge so you will be judged. Good luck with that!
Do you think the Kingdom of God is more likely to belong to a wealthy "Christian" leader who preaches hate and exclusion (even when saying "hate the sin but love the sinner") or to the least of these, the disenfranchised who want nothing more than to enjoy the same rights of other citizens? Do you think God does not see that the poor have no care and die because your greedy (lying) insurance lobby has your so called Congress in their pockets? You hypocrites and liars! You say you're preaching my gospel when my Gospel never was about correct belief or correct behavior. My gospel was about loving God, not judging others, making room for everyone at the table, and loving your neighbor as you love yourself. If gays and minorities are your enemy then, as you know, I commanded you to love them! And if they are asking to be allowed to marry I commanded you to give to him who asks of you! Besides, you don't own America. This is a democracy and yours is just one opinion. How did it come to this?
How do those who claim that they serve and represent me misuse the Bible to the extent that they make bumper stickers and coffee mugs calling for the death of the President by misquoting Psalm 109.8? (By the way, in case you want to know, he's doing his best to follow the law of love right now, even though it's almost impossible to do that because the fool who ruled before him --- talk about a burning Bush! --- left the biggest mess since the fall of Jerusalem in the year AD 70!)
Do you think I am on the side of a those who want to make the First Lady of the United States (who happens to be a favorite daughter of mine!) a widow and the daughters of the President orphans as this Psalm is misconstrued to "call" for? You American Christians utterly defaced the name of Christianity with your racism, slavery and your bigotry against women. And now you're doing it again in your war against gays and minorities, your “drug war” which is little more than open warfare against your own citizens, and in your economic war against the poor and those who have no health care. You are like the Pharisees I used to know and who strained out the least gnat of others' so-called misbehavior while turning a blind eye to their own wickedness, hypocrisy and lies. Remember my sayings about taking the beam out of your own eye before removing the speck from your brother's?
Quit worrying about gays and minorities and start worrying about your so-called churches, those ash heaps of stinking bigotry and hate. The way you hate your first black president is all I need to know about you. So stop worrying about other people's "sins" and start worrying about all the lies you are telling your children in my name! And all your talk about patriotism will do you no good unless you love every American as you love yourself – including gay Americans, poor people, the mentally ill, the disenfranchised and yes, women who have abortions and the “illegal” immigrants. And who do you think you are criminalizing my Father's creations in the first place? They ask mercy of you! Give to them! Or did you miss that part of my teaching too?
Do you really think I'm on the side of those who hate others? Have you forgotten what my Apostle John wrote? “If anyone says, 'I love God', and yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1st John 4,:20, NIV) It's as if you are crucifying me again! The point is to have a chance to sanctify love in every generation. If I walked here on Earth again with you, you'd kill me again, just as you are going to kill all that is good in my name, just as some of you are praying for the death of your president who you even call "Anti-Christ." Let me tell you who is Anti-Christ: Christian "saved" America, meaning those who are too busy taking care of themselves to have time for anyone else. You are so religious on Sunday mornings, and yet you all turn into selfish, demonic pigs during the week. So depart from me, come up with a new name for whatever you are, and drop the word "Christ" out of your name. You've destroyed my reputation.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
The Doomed War On Drugs
(excerpt from “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto”, by Paul J. Bern)
Of all the people throughout the world who are incarcerated, fully 25% of them are locked up right here in the US. The United States has more people locked up in state and federal prisons than all the rest of the countries of the world combined. Of all the US prisoners currently serving sentences in state and federal prison, over 55% of them are locked up for nonviolent drug offenses. When we look at whether fewer people use drugs in countries like ours with stricter drug laws, we find that the World Health Organization looked at 17 countries in a 2008 study and found no such correlation. The US, despite its punitive – to the point of being Draconian – drug policies, has one of the highest levels of drug use in the world. By any measure, making drugs illegal fails to achieve one of its primary objectives. But it is the unintended consequences of prohibition that make the most compelling case against it.
Prohibition fuels crime in many ways: without state aid, addicts may be forced to fund their habit through robbery, for instance, while youngsters can be drawn into the drugs trade as a way to earn money and status. In countries such as Colombia and Mexico, the profits from illegal drugs have spawned armed criminal organizations whose resources rival those of the state. So what's the alternative? There are several models for the legal provision of recreational drugs. They include prescription by doctors, consumption at licensed premises or even sale on a similar basis to alcohol and tobacco, with health warnings and age limits. If this prospect appalls you, consider the fact that in the US today, many teenagers say they find it easier to buy cannabis than beer. What has the 40-year-long war on drugs gotten us? In 40 years, taxpayers spent more than:
• $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico — and the violence along with it.
• $33 billion in marketing "Just Say No"-style messages to America's youth and other “prevention” programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have "risen steadily" since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.
• $49 billion for law enforcement along America's borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.
• $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.
• $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.
The $320 billion annual global drug industry now accounts for over 1 percent of all commerce on the planet. A full 10 percent of Mexico's economy is built on drug proceeds. For every drug dealer you put in jail or kill, a line forms to replace him/her because the money is just that good. Today it is clearer than ever that criminalization not only does not work when it comes to drug law enforcement, it actually exacerbates the drug “problem” overall. The February 12, 1996 issue of the National Review had the headline in bold letters, “THE WAR ON DRUGS IS LOST”. Consider a few facts about America's weed war:
* It diverts hundreds of thousands of police agents from serious crimes to the pursuit of harmless tokers, including agents from the local and state police, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and U.S. Marshals, Secret Service, Border Patrol, Customs, and Postal Service.
* By even the most conservative estimate, the outlay from US taxpayers now tops $10 billion a year in direct spending just to catch, prosecute, and incarcerate marijuana users and sellers, not counting such indirect costs as militarizing our border with Mexico in a hopeless effort to stop marijuana imports.
* Police agents at all levels trample our Bill of Rights in their eagerness to nab pot consumers by conducting illegal car searches, phone and email taps, garbage scrounging, and door-busting night raids.
* Even people who are merely suspected of marijuana violations and have had no charges filed against them can (and regularly do) have their cars, money, computers, and other property confiscated by police. In a reversal of America's fundamental legal principles, it is up to these suspects to prove that their property is "innocent" of any crime.
* People convicted of possessing even one ounce of marijuana can face mandatory minimum sentences of a year in jail, and having even one plant in your yard is a federal felony.
* 49,000 Americans are in federal or state prisons right now on marijuana charges, not counting people in city and county jails.
*89% of all marijuana arrests are for simple possession of the weed, not for producing or selling it. In short, marijuana prohibition is not, and will not, reduce demand. So then it’s time to regulate the supply. It is time to remove the production and distribution of marijuana out of the hands of violent criminals and into the hands of licensed businesses, and the only way to do that is through legalization, regulation and taxation.
Another thing about the drug war is that we are forced to draw connections between the war on drugs and the disintegration of low-income and black communities in America. As Dr. King so poignantly reminds us in his critique of the Vietnam War, "a time comes when silence is betrayal." With many communities disparately impacted by the drug war, many of us working for justice have come to the realization that America's war on drugs is really a war on families and communities. In the spirit of Rev. Dr. King, we must now ask: Has this drug war assault on the poor and the marginalized become the next big civil rights struggle? Civil rights advocates are honoring Dr. King's legacy by standing up against the "new Jim Crow" – mass incarceration through the racially disproportionate war on drugs. It is impossible to talk frankly and honestly about racism without talking about the drug war. Few U.S. policies have had such a devastating effect on Blacks, Latinos and other racial minorities than the drug war. Every aspect of the war on drugs – from arrests to prosecutions to sentencing – is disproportionately carried out against minorities. In an allegedly Christian country like the US, this is inexcusable.
100,000 Americans die each year from prescription drugs — that’s 270 per day or more than twice as many as there are killed in car accidents each day. This shows you how dangerous prescription medications truly are. To make matters worse, we are the only developed country that doesn't control prescription drug prices, meaning that the drug companies can charge whatever they want to — even for drugs that don’t work very well. The industry’s unlimited hikes in prices have helped make health insurance unaffordable for most Americans. This is also why wages of American workers have stagnated. When health premiums rise, employers must get the extra money from somewhere, and employee raises are one of the first things to go.
But what if some of that money that we are spending on apparently dangerous but legal prescription drugs was redirected towards medical marijuana? Has modern medicine been able to document the positive effects of cannabis medication? Research into possible medical uses of Cannabis is enjoying a renaissance.
In recent years, studies have shown potential for treating nausea, vomiting, premenstrual syndrome, insomnia, migraines, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, alcohol abuse, collagen-induced arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, bipolar disorder, depression, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, sickle-cell disease, sleep apnea, Alzheimer's disease, glaucoma and anorexia nervosa. It is also documented to be very effective for patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in a groundbreaking law passed in 2000. Now, the United States, which has waged a 40-year, $1 trillion war on drugs, is looking for answers in tiny Portugal, which is reaping the benefits of what once looked like a dangerous gamble. White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske visited Portugal in September 2010 to learn about its drug reforms, and other countries — including Norway, Denmark, Australia and Peru — have taken interest, too. The disasters that were predicted by critics didn't happen. The answer was simple: Provide treatment. Here's what happened in Portugal between 2000 and 2010 as a result of decriminalization of formerly illegal drugs:
• There were small increases in illicit drug use among adults, but decreases for adolescents and problem users, such as drug addicts and prisoners.
• Drug-related court cases dropped 66 percent.
• Drug-related HIV cases dropped 75 percent. In 2002, 49 percent of people with AIDS were addicts; by 2008 that number fell to 28 percent.
• The number of regular users held steady at less than 3 percent of the population for marijuana and less than 0.3 percent for heroin and cocaine — figures which show decriminalization brought no surge in drug use.
• The number of people treated for drug addiction rose 20 percent from 2001 to 2008.
Officials have not yet worked out the cost of the program, but they expect no increase in spending, since most of the money was diverted from the justice system to the public health service. The U.S. is spending $74 billion this year on criminal and court proceedings for drug offenders, compared with $3.6 billion for treatment. The result of the criminalization of alcohol sales and consumption during the 1920's was the gangster era of Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde and scores of other lesser-known hoodlums and gangs that profited from the violent underground economy that Prohibition created. Today we have an identical situation since the drug trade is mostly in the hands of gangsters and thugs, with the criminals killing innocent bystanders and each other in fights over turf and cash flow. The fact that more people are being locked up while crime has decreased and our prisons are already bursting at the seams, particularly in minority communities, constitutes a 21st century civil rights issue of the highest order. It is time for the US government and law enforcement to “stand down red alert” in the war on drugs. It's time to end this madness and this stupidity.
The fact of the matter is that if cannabis was legalized and regulated, the medical profession would have a new and completely natural weapon to use against chronic pain, the side effects of chemotherapy, glaucoma and a veritable laundry list of other ailments. All the claims about cannabis being harmful and addictive have long since been disproved by reputable scientific researchers.
If cannabis was legalized and taxed at the state and federal level, American taxpayers and lawmakers alike would be looking at a new revenue stream well in excess of $400 billion dollars annually at the federal level alone. This is not counting fresh revenues in the amount of tens of billions annually that each state would collect as a result of legalization, times all 50 states and US territories.
Finally, if cannabis is decriminalized, all the combined resources of law enforcement at all levels could redirect their time and effort to the main things that they do best, which is to stop violent crime in its tracks, and to detect and expose those who are involved with terrorism and human smuggling across or within our borders. It is much easier for law enforcement at all levels to protect the public when they do not have to waste time prosecuting certain persons for smoking a harmless plant. Cigarettes are legal; when someone lights one up they are also smoking a plant, so (speaking as a minister who has no problem with taking a stand against bad laws that are counterproductive at best and a human rights violation at worst) morally there is no difference. It is a documented fact that cigarette smoking kills between 40 and 50 thousand people per year in the US alone. By the same token, nobody ever died from smoking cannabis. Absolutely nobody.
If “we the people”, America's 99%, want an effective way to to take away what I regard as excess authority that is being abused by the minions and henchmen of the 1%, then ending the war on drugs would be one very good place to start. The war on drugs, like the ticking time bomb of economic inequality and the resulting class warfare that is ongoing in America, is the new civil rights battle cry of the 21st century. As a watchman on the wall protecting a boundary that shields the human rights of mankind, it is my job to sound this warning, and I am not alone.
As the spring of 2012 turns to summer, a resounding crescendo of voices of the multitudes who are completely fed up with an existence of bare bones survival will rise up and speak the truth to the power of big corporate money. We who are rising up will say with one voice, “Enough is enough!”, and by the force of sheer numbers we will overwhelm those who hoard wealth, assets and possessions at the expense of everyone else. If we are denied a hearing for our grievances then we shall take to the streets in protest. Then the top 1%-'ers will see that resisting us will only turn America into another Tunisia, another Egypt, another Yemen, another Spain, another Syria, or another Greece. It is time for everyone to make a choice. If we do not make ourselves part of the solution, then we default to being part of the problem. Become part of the solution. Occupy America in 2012 and beyond!
In this third and final installment of my series of postings on the fall of the American empire, America is under attack both from without and from within. Externally, we are under attack by a small but very malicious band of Islamic religious extremists in an often violent dispute over what God's proper name is while simultaneously being burdened with crushing debt that can never be repaid. Internally, our country is under attack from rampant corruption that overshadows most other countries, and it is a systemic corruption that threatens to devour us all. But there is something else going on here, something underneath the surface, that is far greater than either of these other two threats I have mentioned. I am writing about what TBN television host Grant Jeffery calls a “shadow government” (he has a book out by the same name). This shadow government is a cabal of unelected, shadowy private interests that control the multinational corporations, the World Bank, the IMF and the worldwide military-industrial complex, among other things. This “shadow government” is made up of members of the top 1% income bracket, and their activities are directed against the rest of us, as all my readers know by now. I have compiled the following list that proves “we the people” are under attack.
The top 16 statistics that prove “we the people” are under attack.
1) The inequality of wealth in the United States is soaring to an unprecedented level. The U.S. already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the middle class and poor much harder than the top 1 percent, the gap between the top 1 percent and the remaining 99 percent of the U.S. population is greater than ever.
2) The three big banks that took taxpayer money and benefited the most from the government bailout have just set a new global economic record by issuing $30 billion in annual bonuses this year, “up 60 percent from last year.”
3) The profits of the economic elite are “now underwritten by taxpayers with $23.7 trillion worth of national wealth." As the looting is occurring at the top, the U.S. middle class is just beginning to collapse.
4) Workers between the ages of 55 to 60, who have worked for 20 to 29 years, have lost an average of 25 percent off their 401k. During the same time period, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans went up by $30 billion, bringing their total combined wealth to $1.57 trillion.
5) Home foreclosure filings hit a record high in the third quarter of 2010 and continues into 2012. Over 3.4 million homes entered foreclosure by the end of 2010, and this year will be even worse.
6) 25 million people are unemployed or underemployed. That's nearly 1 in 6 Americans.
7) There have been 123 U.S. bank failures thus far this year.
8) 10 U.S. states are on the verge of bankruptcy, with several ready to declare a financial state of emergency, such as California, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
9) “U.S. public debt has topped $14 trillion for the first time in history”… This prediction, first written in the spring of 2011 when the final draft of my first book was completed, has since come true as many of you know.
10) The U.S. poverty rate is the highest in the industrialized world. Predictably, homelessness is rising at an increased rate as well. The U.S. government does not tally the numbers but interested organizations say that more than 3 million people were homeless at some point over the past year. The fastest growing segment of the homeless population is families with children.
11) 50 percent of U.S. children will need to use food stamps to eat at some point in their childhood. In the African-American community, it is a shocking 90%. (As to why the black community isn't protesting in the streets over this, I have no idea. Dear brothers and sisters, the time has come for all of us to stand up and fight for our kids!) This is a national disgrace, a social injustice and a cause for outrage and protest if ever there was one. We are all in awful shape when we can't even feed our own children.
12) In 2010, according to the Census Bureau, the number of U.S. citizens without health care grew to a record 50 million. Furthermore, this statistic is on track to exceed 56 million by the end of this year.
13) Lack of health insurance caused 45,000 preventable U.S. citizen deaths in 2010. The American Journal of Medicine recently released a study that stated, “Nearly two out of three bankruptcies stem from medical bills, and even people with health insurance face financial disaster if they experience a serious illness.”
14) A Johns Hopkins Children’s Center study reported that 17,000 US children have died due to lack of health care. You can also add in a recent report that revealed that 2,266 U.S. veterans have died in 2008 due to lack of access to health care.
15) The gun and ammunition manufacturing industry in the United States has over 200 companies producing billions of dollars in annual revenues. This huge manufacturing base cannot fulfill demand quickly enough. The demand for guns and ammunition has hit a record high and the gun industry cannot produce enough bullets to keep up with orders. Americans are arming themselves to the teeth!
16) In the past year, 100 new armed militia groups have been formed, as militia members have doubled in numbers. Federal authorities are gravely concerned about the “uptick in militia activities." One federal authority recently said, “All it’s lacking is a spark.”
I got these next two postings off the Internet, with the first one originating in Russia and the second in the US.
Subject: US Federal Reserve “Shock” 2012 Move Dooms America
“A grim report given to President Medvedev today by Finance Minister of the Russian Federation Alexei Kudrin is stating that the private European banking conglomerate known as the United States Federal Reserve System, that basically rules over the finances of America, has given a “shock warning” to President Obama that they do not intend to renew the charter granted to them in 1913 by the US Congress and is set to expire on December 21, 2012, which (coincidentally? ) is also the exact date that the controversial Mayan Calendar predicts will be the ending of our present age.
To how bad the Federal Reserve System (which many call the World’s largest Counterfeiter) has destroyed the American economy is evidenced in their destruction of the US Dollar which has lost over a quarter of its value in the past 8 years, and what a single Dollar could buy in 1913, when this secret banking cabal began to strangle these people, would cost $21.67 today, and which comes out to a shocking inflation rate of 2067.0%! And as hard as it is to believe it is nevertheless true that these American people pay more on overdraft fees to their banker masters than they spend on fresh vegetables! Russian Finance Ministry calculations show that should the American people stop paying their money to banks (mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, etc.) and all declare bankruptcy the entire debt load carried by the US Government would be paid in less than 2-years and the United States would have over $85 Trillion available to them over the next 10-years to pay for the complete rebuilding of their Nation and society.”
As I finished the final draft of my book this past spring, I included portions of an Internet posting on CNNMoney.com from March 2011 that says,” Home prices: The double-dip is near. Since then, housing prices have continued in free fall, and the double-dip in housing prices predicted in my book is now coming true, as you all know by now. So long as the US real estate market is in the tank, it will be very difficult for the remainder of the US economy to get healthy again. And if the US economy lags, so will the job market. It is only a matter of time before the American people get fed up with the lack of jobs. Civil unrest will surely follow. And now let me share the second Internet posting I mentioned above as additional proof that the USA is coming apart at the seams.
Mexican soldiers found invading United States
Government report documents dozens of armed campaigns in Texas, Arizona
Government report documents dozens of armed campaigns in Texas, Arizona
Posted: January 10, 2008 © 2008 WorldNetDaily. com
This posting states that between January 1996 and September 2006, there were 253 confirmed incursions into the United States by Mexican government personnel. The government has documented shots fired on both sides of the border, unmarked helicopters invading U.S. airspace, drug smuggling and actual confrontations between U.S. Border Patrol agents and armed members of the Mexican military. All it will take is one violent cross-border incident to start a US-Mexican war. What is such a shame about all this is that if the US government would just call off the stupid, idiotic and pointless “war on drugs”, all the cartel-related violence that is now occurring on our southern border would disappear almost overnight.
"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." -Benjamin Franklin
In the meantime, it is now official. A majority of Americans are willing to give up liberty in order to be safer from “terrorism”. Never mind that the chief perpetrator of this “terrorism” is the US federal government and the military-industrial-intelligence complex it controls. A stunning new McClatchy-Ipsos poll has found that 51 percent of Americans agree with this statement: "it is necessary to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safe from terrorism." Only 36 percent of those polled agreed with this statement: "some of the government's proposals will go too far in restricting the public's civil liberties." Have they really been brainwashed into willingly giving up their essential liberties just so they can feel a little safer? Maybe they have, but I sure haven't. So almost 4 out of 5 Americans are perfectly fine with letting airport security officials gawk at their naked bodies just so they can feel a bit safer from terrorists. How sick is that? The truth is that when Americans allow themselves to become so wimpy and so fearful that they are willing to throw many of their most important freedoms out the window, those responsible for the terror scares have already won.
It is for this reason that the Occupy Movement has become so important. I participated in Occupy DC in Washington for its first three days on October 6th, 7th and 8th. Our country is being driven right into the ground by an evil and probably crazy group of people who answer only to the top 1%, to the detriment of the remaining 99%. The worst part is that it is in their best interest to run the country into the ground because they will make a lot of money from the collapse of the USA. The current problem of Congress and their inability to pass a jobs bill is a classic example. These idiots in Washington would let joblessness and homelessness continue among their constituents in the hopes of ruining the economy so Obama won't be reelected in 2012. In so doing this minority of ultraconservatives are guilty of dereliction of duty, and so they should be voted out of office in next year's election. But until then, keep protesting and demonstrating, and join the national strike movement at the Second American Revolution website, www.2ndar.org. Simply click on the “national strike movement” button to the right on your desktop. Thanks so much.
Fall of An Empire Part 2: R.I.P. U.S.A.
The average student loan debt upon graduation from college with a 4-year degree is $40,000.00 as of 2011. If you are just graduating or recently graduated from college you will have to go back to school and earn a new degree, or otherwise change vocations, about once every ten to fifteen years over your lifetime in order to keep up with changes in the job market and new technologies. That is a frightening prospect for anybody. Higher education has priced itself right out of the market. Since this is discriminatory and exclusionary, it is a civil rights violation that I judge to be illegal. Higher education as it stands right now is only for those who can afford it, and only for those who can “qualify” for predatory student loans that bury new graduates under mountains of debt so large that many can never be fully repaid. Unfortunately for these people, it is now standard operating procedure for prospective employers to check the credit of job applicants, and this is a practice that needs to be outlawed because it is discriminatory. The end result of this is that the further behind one gets on his or her student loan payments due to unemployment the worse one's credit rating becomes, and so the harder it becomes to find suitable employment, and so on. This is a social injustice that must be vigorously opposed at every turn. It amounts to economic discrimination based on class, in this case employer (those who possess wealth) vs. the unemployed (those who have none), and that is a civil rights issue if ever there was one. And so, to correct this injustice, higher education should be free to everyone who desires it, and it should be available unconditionally. For details on how this can be accomplished without reinventing the educational system, please order my book.
I cannot overemphasize the fact that the loss of housing, jobs, savings, pensions and other investments, plus transportation, access to higher education and the human dignity that goes with them, and the loss of access to health care, are all civil rights issues for the early 21st century. The fact of the matter is that we all have the right to all of the above as American citizens – the fundamental right to shelter, to a livelihood and a living wage, to preventative health care, to free education for life instead of having to pay for it. But instead I'm sure you all have noticed, as I have, that America's existing constitutional rights are being systematically taken away from us a little bit at a time by the top 1%. The only way to stop this from occurring is to take to the streets in nonviolent protests, to organize and initiate general strikes, to flood the social media in order to better organize, and to keep doing these things until satisfactory changes are made.
What will happen if this does not occur? Where will our formerly great country end up if everybody sits idly by and does nothing? Let me paint a portrait for you of what would likely happen in that event, a devastating portrait of a country in ruins. The end, you see, has nearly arrived. In fact, the end of all things as we have known them is a lot closer than you may have previously thought. Allow me to present a few examples.
 The number of Americans that have become so discouraged that they have given up searching for work completely now stands at an all-time high.
 Half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week before taxes.
 Since 2001, over 42,000 U.S. factories have closed down for good.
 In 2008, 1.2 billion cellphones were sold worldwide. So how many of them were manufactured inside the United States? Zero.
 According to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, if the U.S. trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.
 According to Tax Notes, between 1999 and 2008 employment at the foreign affiliates of U.S. parent companies increased an astounding 30 percent to 10.1 million. During that exact same time period, U.S. employment at American multinational corporations declined 8 percent to 21.1 million.
 As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing. The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.
 In 2001, the United States ranked fourth in the world in per capita broadband Internet use. Today it ranks 15th.
 One prominent economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040. At any rate, the Chinese economy will eclipse the US economy by 2016.
 The U.S. Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that is the highest number of poor Americans in the 51 years that records have been kept.
 The official U.S. unemployment rate has not been beneath 9 percent since April 2009 .
 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are currently 6.3 million vacant homes in the United States that are either for sale or for rent.
 Since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs. In the year 2000 there were approximately 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.
 22.5 percent of all residential mortgages in the United States were in negative equity as of the end of the third quarter of 2010.
 In 2010, 55 percent of Americans between the ages of 60 and 64 were in the labor market. Ten years ago, that number was just 47 percent. More older Americans than ever find that they have to keep working just to survive. Retirement in America has become a lie and a cruel joke.
 As 2007 began, there were just over 1 million Americans that had been unemployed for half a year or longer. Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.
If we have all this economic and military might while one third of our children come from households that rely on food stamps to eat, then I would say there is something really wrong with this picture. There can be no doubt that the USA has become a second-rate country when half of its working adults can't find meaningful work. There can be no doubt that the USA has become a second-rate country when it is the last developed nation in the entire world without national health insurance for its citizens. There can be no doubt that the USA has become a second-rate country when all the good jobs get out-sourced overseas for pennies on the dollar while formerly employed Americans lose their houses and their cars and wind up destitute. There can be no doubt that the USA has become a second-rate country when it is the last developed country where there is no family leave for its workers. There can be no doubt that the USA has become a second-rate country when our nation has more people in prison than any other country in the world. There can be no doubt that the USA has become a second-rate country when our country has accumulated the largest foreign trade deficit and federal budget deficit in the history of the world. Since the government is either unwilling or unable to address these issues in an intelligent manner, it is up to us, “we the people”, to tackle the job from the bottom up since the top-down approach apparently isn't working.
Today, the United States spends roughly 76 cents of every federal tax dollar on just four things: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest on the $14 trillion debt. That leaves 24 cents of revenue to pay for everything else the federal government does. Barring serious efforts to curb the growth in the country's debt, by 2020 Washington could be spending 92 cents of every tax dollar on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest alone. That would leave just 8 cents to pay for everything else. This is just one reason why the country's fiscal course is often described as "unsustainable." There is one more major thing that makes America as we have known it to be "unsustainable", and that added ingredient is oil.
World civilization is based on oil. The world is running out of oil. The oil companies and governments are not telling the truth about how close we are to the end. Whoever controls the remaining oil determines who lives and who dies. Sixty percent of this oil is under a triangular area of the Middle East the size of Kansas. But instead of an alternative energy plan we got the invasion of Iraq by oilmen wedded to a dying business, willing to kill hundreds of thousands to cling to the last drop. The US is never leaving the region or withdrawing from Iraq. The oil won't last that long... It's not about greed any more. It's about survival. Because the leadership of this country was initially too greedy to switch from oil to solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable alternatives, it may now be too late. Had the hundreds of billions of dollars poured into the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan (might as well include western Pakistan while we're at it) been put into alternative energy the world might have had a fighting chance. Now that is far from certain.
World oil reserves are far lower than officially reported, the situation far more serious than publicly admitted, and we're already past “peak oil”. That's the word from two anonymous IEA whistle-blowers, The Guardian (UK) reports. To add insult to industry, the figures were deliberately massaged, at least in part, to appease the United States: Apparently the IEA was concerned that reporting the true reserve numbers – and keep in mind that determining oil reserves is as much art as science – it would trigger a buying panic. The US enters the picture encouraging the IEA to underplay the rate at which oil fields are being depleted – something which the IEA has admitted in recent months is occurring more quickly than previously acknowledged – while at the same time overplaying the possibility of new large discoveries.
There should be protests and demonstrations in the streets because of big oil's hijacking of the US economy (the Occupy Movement is only the start). Right now gas is about $3.50 a gallon. But America's supply chain for petroleum has a problem. Over 80% of US oil refineries are located in the Gulf Coast area, consisting mainly of Louisiana and southeast Texas, right in the middle of hurricane country. All of these refineries are at least 30 years old. All it will take is one category 4 or 5 hurricane to knock these refineries offline for a few weeks or months and the US will find itself in very serious trouble. Then there is the fact that the US gets 40% of its imported oil from one country, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Osama Bin Laden. If Saudi Arabia decides to cut off our supply of Middle Eastern oil, the US will also be in very serious trouble. If Iran decides to blockade the strait of Hormuz (Google or Yahoo that), much the same thing will occur. No matter what happens, the price of gas is sure to rise up to between $6.00 and $7.00 per gallon by the end of 2015. What will we do then? At these price levels, working Americans could be paying nearly $200.00 to fill up their cars with gas, even more for full-size trucks and SUV's. What will we do when we can no longer afford to drive to work?
Can you now see that we as a united people must protest corporate greed in order to keep these things from happening, or at least to lessen the severity of their impact? As I watched the street battles in Egypt, Syria and Greece, all I kept thinking about is how they have mustered the courage to fight their government's tyranny while Americans remain unready to revolt against the peculiar American brand of consumer tyranny. How ironic that in the nation with monumental gun ownership among its citizens there is no hint of people giving up on meaningless elections and taking to the streets in massive numbers to protest their corrupt government. Just this week a new report documented this: Nearly a year and a half into the economic recovery, some 43.6 million Americans continued to rely on food stamps, and that was in November, 2010. That amounted to more than 14 percent of the population relying on food stamps to purchase groceries, just another result of stubborn high unemployment and low incomes among the employed. As of late 2011, that number has increased to nearly 20%. For this to be happening in the richest country in the world is simply inexcusable.
Anyone with a smidgen of intelligence and critical thinking capability knows that in almost every conceivable way the US is in awful shape for a large proportion of its citizens. The nation needs to shift into revolution mode. Watching the Superbowl, pro wrestling, the World Series, Dancing With The Stars and American Idol will not improve our situation. Our financial sector is awash with corruption, greed and dishonesty. Our health care system no longer produces healthy citizens, compared to many other nations, despite costing much, much more. Our physical infrastructure is a disgrace, crumbling and threatening public health and safety. Upward mobility has largely disappeared and the middle class continues to sink into a lower class. Economic inequality has skyrocketed with the rich becoming richer and everyone else suffering more and more. The large number of homeless, hungry, poor and imprisoned Americans defines a nation that has lost its glory and its luster.
It is the tyranny of silence that prevents so many of us today from rising up to protest the "forever wars" of revenge and oil we cannot hope to win and can no longer afford. It is the same tyranny of silence that prevents us from rising up to protest the government takeover – not by socialists – but by extremists on the right who readily give tax breaks to the ultra rich at the expense of everyone else. This same cadre of the military-industrial complex has also been successful in more or less co-opting an otherwise capable president into believing that cutting spending on everything except war is the only way to solve our debt crisis. And it is the tyranny of silence that characterizes the inaction of those of us who have suffered foreclosures of their homes, and those of us who find ourselves without jobs, and those of us who "played by the rules and worked hard" to get through school only to graduate into an America of diminished expectations and heavy debt, as well as all of the rest of us who have seen our salaries cut, our benefits cut, our pensions cut, and who now say to ourselves, "It's okay I guess because at least I still have a job". Yes, it is all of us, including me and you, who see the protests in Egypt and cheer for democracy but are too afraid to reassert our ownership of the democracy we have at home. We all have been made afraid, having been bullied by the system. We live in a tyranny of silence. The time to break that silence has arrived. And, as Thomas Jefferson so profoundly expressed it: "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
America 's founding fathers stood up for their freedom, winning it from the British. The Egyptian people have stood up for their freedom, too, winning it from the Mubarak dictatorship, finding their courage even when Mubarak's thugs flew fighter jets low over their heads, beat and murdered protesters, and otherwise threatened violence. But how does America compare with Egypt?
* There is a stunning amount of inequality in Egypt. But America is even worse.
* Mubarak stole billions from his people, while the American oligarchs have stolen trillions.
* Egypt has been living under a state of emergency for 30 years, yes. But Americans have been living under a continuous state of emergency for 11 years straight.
*Mubarak was supported by the military. But the military-industrial complex has taken over America as well.
*Mubarak ignored the wishes of his people. But has the American government been listening to its people? Consider the 2010 Rasmussen poll which found that "just 21% of voters nationwide believe that the federal government enjoys the consent of the governed."
A 2010 Gallup poll determined that nearly half of all Americans believe "the Federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens." Poll after poll shows that "both national parties are deeply unpopular with an electorate looking for something new and different." Polls reveal that 82% of all Americans wanted Wall Street to be reined in, in a substantial and meaningful manner, and yet our government has let Wall Street have its way on all the important issues. Polls find that Americans want the big financial players who acted with fraud to be punished, and yet our government has let all of the big fish off the hook.
The heart of the matter here is that what has happened in Egypt, Syria, Libya and Greece desperately needs to happen here in the US. If it does not then we will have only ourselves to blame, and we will get whatever kind of tyrannical government we deserve. But I do not believe that the American people will continue to put up with this situation any longer. In fact, I am convinced it is a certainty that the American people, if confronted by the continuing class war that I have been writing about, will ultimately rebel, forcing the current government from power and installing a new one in its place by popular vote just like what happened in Tunisia and Egypt. That rebellion has already started with the Occupy Movement and the 99% Movement, and I have no doubt that these movements will continue to grow as time goes on. I participated in Occupy DC when it started in early October, and I must tell you that it felt really good to be a part of this historic and significant movement of the people. I would urge everyone who reads this to get involved in some way in this noble undertaking. If you can't physically be at the protest, organize one in your local area instead. Use the social media to promote it. Or to be a donor to existing Occupy Movements near you, simply search for them on the Web.
Besides, the alternative is unthinkable. The alternative would be for the US to turn into a third world country. We are dangerously close to that point already. But we can still stop that from occurring and turn things around in our favor if we unite together for change, and a sea of voices rising up from a multitude of humanity can most certainly change things for the better. The momentum for this movement is already underway, so let's capitalize on that and really get things rolling. Besides, it's a good positive experience to be a part of a new 21st century civil rights movement such as this. Be sure and get started with this today, and for those who are already participating, keep up the good work!