Archive | October 2013

The Government Shutdown: Who’s To Blame?

Karl Marx said 150 years ago: “The history of human societies has been a history of class struggle”. The history of the last 30 years in the US has been a history of the rich and powerful winning the class struggle against the poor and the working class, and the trend continues. Shrinking the government and cutting spending which Republicans championed and Democrats consented to is all about taking from the poor and giving it to the rich. And this entire trend is facilitated and made possible by both corporate parties.

What matters is not which of the two parties – Democratic or Republican – is more or less responsible for continuing to cut social programs that most Americans rely on for their survival. What matters is that under current political conditions, with the two parties in charge and sharing power between them, that’s what has been taking place, non-stop, regardless of which of the two holds more power. What matters is the results, and the result is that after all the back and forth and all the talk and the dance the two parties do, we keep losing benefits and rights and corporations and billionaires keep getting richer and more powerful.

The fact is Obama, since his first days in office, has routinely, not so much capitulated – since that implies an intent different from them – but agreed and moved in lockstep with Republicans to cut social programs, and went as far as even putting cuts to social Security and Medicare “on the table”. The current operating budget in effect, right now, is the “sequestration” budget Republicans wanted which Democrats pretended to not want, at first.

We’re not stuck in economic hardship and government cutting our programs. We’re continually sliding back, continually losing more ground. It doesn’t matter how the two parties do it, how they divide the job between them, who takes the first step and who follows. What matters is not how it’s done, but that it’s done. Getting focused on who’s at fault is a distraction and a trap for losing sight of how the two work together to impose on us corporate agenda. The fact is: the two are waltzing together in perfect harmony to the same tune played by their corporate bosses and are stepping all over us. Intentionally or not, the two parties are working in a team to keep taking from us and giving it to the rich.

The whole thing is being played out like a George Zimmerman trial where Democrats pretend to be on the side of the murdered teenager, but continue to go along with all the major points that matter the most in deciding the trial outcome. Has the case nothing to do with racism? No, they both say and the judge stresses. Should Zimmerman’s attack be described as out of hatred or ill will or racism? No, they all agree.

So what’s next? The Republicans now want “entitlement reform”, which means cutting Social Security and Medicare. That’s the new step in their dance. Watch the Democrats happily follow.

James Poulos of The Forbes Magazine which can hardly be described a progressive journal, asked rhetorically, on today’s “All In With Chris Hays” show on MSNBC: “Where are the progressives” to counter the Tea Party? And answered: “They are crushed and Obama helped them be crushed”. The Republicans have no pretense as to what they stand for. They need no exposing. They do it themselves. Those who need exposing are their Democratic demagogue partners.

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Occupy Congress

What is this nation supposed to be the greatest in? In how many people its military can kill at once? In how quickly and completely they can level a village and kill its inhabitants on the opposite side of the Earth? In how many military bases it possesses? Or is it the greatest in taking care of its people, in providing healthcare, affordable education, feeding the children and caring for the elderly? How about in protecting and ensuring the safety of the water we drink and the food we eat?

Already, we live in an era of very little government regulation and oversight of corporations and their activities that affect our food, water, air and the environment, leaving them alone to do as they please. Already, we live in an era of maximum corporate influence in politics and buying off of politicians, resulting in huge corporate profits, without regard to people’s health or the environment. But also, every time there is a cutback of government spending or a “shutdown”, as there is now, even that little oversight is abandoned. The first thing that’s considered in any endeavor that corporations set their eye on is, of course, profit, not how it would impact our water, in the case of fracturing, for example, or our food, in the case of genetically modified produce, or climate change, in the case of fossil fuel production.

This trend of increasing corporate power and influence has reached a dangerous and unsustainable level: it has impoverished what used to be a middle class; it has decimated organized labor and collective bargaining, pushing the working class into poverty; it has given rise to endless wars and a militarized police state with massive and indiscriminate spying on citizens; it has endangered people’s health and set the environment on a course for disaster. None of these should be a surprise in a society where profit determines everything and money alone can decide policies. And in all this, both corporate parties are at fault. It’s not about who is more at fault or who is the “lesser evil”; it’s about the dance they do together to satisfy and keep happy their corporate bosses. Both Republicans and Democrats, including and especially under Obama presidency have created the current situation.

The water reservoir shown in the photo is outside the town of Weynesburg, PA. A Duke University study published yesterday found dangerously high level of contamination due to fluids discharged after natural gas extraction which oil and gas companies are furiously engaged in currently, throughout the US and without EPA oversight. Such contaminated water finds its way into people’s drinking water. If you search for fracking or fracturing, you can see on YouTube, people holding a lighter to their tap water and setting it on fire. This is dangerous. It’s our drinking water that’s at stake. It doesn’t get any more basic than that. This is what the political and socioeconomic situation has come down to in this country that we are told is the greatest. This is what a system based on profit-first does. This must be stopped and it won’t be stopped by corporate politicians, the vast majority of whom are multi-millionaires receiving campaign contributions from corporations, and who cut children’s school lunches while keeping their high salaries and corporate gifts. Not even writing or calling them will do. What we need is to Occupy them. It’s time for change.

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