Monday, January 23, 2012

A message for our time

Photos this week are street art painted or stenciled onto the street walls in Oaxaca Mexico

Lets be clear about this. Being a democracy does not also require us to give free reign to the corporations in our midst. A democracy is a country "of the people by the people for the people", in the words of Abe Lincoln.

“The poorest people in our country today… are earning wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation, We have thousands and thousands of people working on full –time jobs, with part time incomes,” ML King, Jr.

“Our 'dangerous class' ( in America) is not at the bottom; it is near the top of society. Riches without law are more dangerous than is poverty without law.” Henry Ward Beecher

“Most American have never seen the ignorance, degradation, hunger, sickness, and the futility in which many other Americans live… They will become involved in economic or political change until something brings the seriousness of the situation home to them.” Shirley Chisholm

This past year I have been made aware of this disparity in America as I visit my “Teach for America” interns in some of the most economically challenged neighborhoods of America. I am seeing heroic efforts on the part of my teachers – and I am seeing students who are doing well – developing academic skills in biology, chemistry, and physics… But the playing field is so uneven for these kids. In some of these neighborhoods the average unemployment is 30% - under this continual pressure families disintegrate. Desparate futures lead to despair and the use of drugs to numb the pain… And all the right wing says is that they should pull themselves up by their own boot straps. I deeply wish those folks could visit the neighborhoods and talk to individuals to learn what their lives are like.

“What most people don’t seem to realize is that there is just as much money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization from the up building of one”. Margaret Mitchell

The greatest con job of our time if how many traditional Republicans are completely supporting a system that is so totally working against their own best interests. Much of this is the work of masterful social engineering: paid for to maintain Republican ideals through the work of Fox news and other certain rabid talk show hosts who consider truth to be very malleable indeed!The Republican party of today is working for the corporate interests of America.

How on earth did they convince the working poor of America that despite many years of evidence – that “Trickle down” economics don’t trickle down – the increased profits in corporate hands stay with the big companies – who use the money to grow larger – and establish overseas plants to produce their good cheaper?

The rise of the American middle class is closely associated with the power of unions. We can all point to examples of Union power gone astray. But the growth of unions in the 1940’s and 1950’s is closely correlated with the rise of the American standard of living and the growth of our middle class. The repression of unions in the 1990s and 2000s matches with a decline in the middle class and the growth in the power of the 1% and the expansion of the impoverished in America.

The founding fathers back in 1776 were suspicious of governmental power. And for that reason they developed a system of checks and balances – No one agency had the power to enact law without agreement from other branches – So we have a bicameral congress (Senate and House), the President, and the Supreme Court. We also have a tradition of clever lawyers who are very effective at finding loopholes to gain an advantage. The founding fathers had no knowledge of or plan for dealing with the vast power of megacorporation’s and their financial power. They had no knowledge of professional lobbyists, bought and controlled by special interest groups.

They did make provision for free expression of ideas by encouraging an open and free press. America at that time was a small agricultural country, with small retain stores and a mercantile industry based on oxen carts and sail powered ships.

As I have said before - this is a genie that can not be put back into its jug - people are starting to wake up and see the truth of what is happening to our way of life!

Strongly suggested reading: Bernie Sanders:


Today fun thing to do: I have just learned how to make a "word cloud" -To make your own word cloud - go to this site: - you will see a space to paste any block of text, and you can adjust the parameters to shape the "cloud" - thats it - then it you don't like the configuration or color that can be adjusted too. They are works of art - but they are also a quick and easy way to see what is being emphasized in a body of work! To see what I mean - here are two word clouds comparing Obama's State of the Union speech with the Republican response:

Tonight's addresses at a glance


President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address*:

Republican response from Governor Mitch Daniels*:

*created from transcripts as prepared, may differ from delivered remarks