Saturday, July 18, 2009

While the Economic Royalists, & Their Enforcers in Politics & Media, Live the High Life, Will "We, the People" Fade into Oblivion?

Image: Frida Kahlo, Love Embrace of the Universe

During eight years of the Bush administration, the 400 richest Americans, who now own more than the bottom 150 million Americans, increased their net worth by $700 billion. In 2005, the top 1 percent claimed 22 percent of the national income, while the top 10 percent took half of the total income, the largest share since 1928. Don Monkerud, US Income Inequality Continues to Grow, Capital Times (via Common Dreams), 7-17-09

If the Senate doesn't pass a bill to cut global warming, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer says, there will be dire results: droughts, floods, fires, loss of species, damage to agriculture, worsening air pollution and more. She says there's a huge upside, however, if the Senate does act: millions of clean-energy jobs, reduced reliance on foreign oil and less pollution for the nation's children ... The stakes couldn't be higher as she faces one of the toughest high-profile acts of her lengthy career: getting Congress to sign off on historic legislation to lower greenhouse-gas emissions.. McClatchy News, 7-11-09

Howard Dean: The thing I love about Obama’s plan is it’s politically practical ... We’re going to allow people under sixty-five to sign up for what people over sixty-five have. And you make the choice.” And what we’re all betting is that the private—and I agree with his comments about the private insurance industry. Their behavior has been reprehensible, cutting people off when they have illnesses and charging huge—executive salaries of the big three are over $20 million. The guy that runs CMS, which has a billion claims a year, probably makes $150,000 or $200,000. I mean, it’s ridiculous. Let the American people choose. If they make the choice themselves, they will invest emotionally in this system, and I think that the insurance industry will be forced to behave in a much better way, or they will be put out of business. But it will be themselves that’s putting themselves out of business, and the American people, not the Congress, doing it. Democracy Now!, 7-17-09

While the Economic Royalists, & Their Enforcers in Politics & Media, Live the High Life, Will "We, the People" Fade into Oblivion?

By Richard Power,

This afternoon, I left my eyrie on one of the great hills of San Francisco, and walked down through Chinatown to North Beach for a double espresso at Cafe Trieste. Then I walked back up into the gray sky, caressed by a chill wind.

Along the way, I immersed myself in the surging throngs of tourists on holiday, and local families on a weekend outing. They crowded the narrow streets, and huddled around the gift shops, grasping for the meaning of this place in meaningless trinkets from somewhere else, or shopping for modest groceries to sustain a humble home.

Weaving my way through these clusters of dreamers, I brushed against old age, infancy and adolescence. I opened my ears to the multilingual cacophony, and opened my mind to the fleeting thoughts and feelings that rose up all around me.

Now an understanding, ripe and swollen, hangs low from the inner Tree of Knowledge.

I heard it all, I felt it all, but I cannot describe it to you, except to say that it was overflowing with every sort of personal desire and every sort of personal hope. It was intimate and earnest, but it was all centered on the life of the family, the bonds of companionship, the realities of work and the mind candy of the popular culture.

None of them were thinking about the Climate Crisis. None of them were thinking about Darfur, or the Congo. None of them were even thinking about the Healthcare Crisis, or how it impacts their own vulnerable lives.

But I felt only admiration and awe.

I do not fault them for what has befallen this nation and the world.

The most massive protests in the history of this nation and the world preceded the launch of the foolish military adventure in Iraq. The US political establishment ignored it, and the US mainstream news media willfully underestimated the size of those crowds. "We, the people" has become (at best) only marginally relevant to the decision-making process in Beltwayistan.

What I heard on those streets this afternoon was simply the music of humanity, which has been playing uninterruptedly since the dawn of time, and will continue until whatever end befalls this experiment in sentience.

My grievance is with the leaders of this nation and this planet.

Damn them.

For serving the selfish interests of those that F.D.R. called the "Economic Royalists" rather than the "general welfare" of those the Founders referenced as "We, the people ..."

What passes for discourse about the Healthcare Crisis in Beltwayistan and on the public air waves is revelatory in its willful inanity and malicious duplicity.

If the US political establishment refuses to junk a healthcare insurance system that has failed the populace, and ripped it off for an obscene profit in the process, because doing so would disrupt the good life and the campaign financing that makes it all possible, how can it be expected to junk a energy paradigm that threatens all life on the planet?

If the US mainstream news media refuses to expose the cruelty and greed of the health insurance racket, and refuses to highlight the superiority of European and Canadian health care systems, because of the inter-locking relationships among the captains of industry, how can it be expected to sound the alarm for urgent action on the greatest threat of all?

Damn them.

If this year ends without bold action on both healthcare and climate/energy signed into law, then all the gentle, personal dreams of the throngs I passed through this afternoon will be significantly diminished at best, and more than likely shattered into sharp, hurtful pieces sooner than later.


Listen, a corporation is not a person; and "We, the people" is not a cattle call.

Here is an excerpt from a profound and profoundly disturbing piece by that brilliant literary provocateur, Arundathi Roy; the task at hand is to answer her with powerful deeds not empty rhetoric, it will be extraordinarily difficult, and if it not done soon, it will be impossible:

The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasised into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the free market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximising profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be? ... What we need today, for the sake of the survival of this planet, is long-term vision. Can governments whose very survival depends on immediate, extractive, short-term gain provide this? Could it be that democracy, the sacred answer to our short-term hopes and prayers, the protector of our individual freedoms and nurturer of our avaricious dreams, will turn out to be the endgame for the human race? Could it be that democracy is such a hit with modern humans precisely because it mirrors our greatest folly – our nearsightedness? Our inability to live entirely in the present (like most animals do) combined with our inability to see very far into the future makes us strange in-between creatures, neither beast nor prophet. Our amazing intelligence seems to have outstripped our instinct for survival. We plunder the earth hoping that accumulating material surplus will make up for the profound, unfathomable thing that we have lost. Arundathi Roy, Into the Inferno: Hollow Language and Hollow Democracies, New Statesman (via Common Dreams), 7-16-09

See Also

A Call for Unity -- Strong, Loud, Pushy, Relentless, Quarrelsome Unity; Make No Mistake -- They are Still "Hunting the President"

While the G-8 Stumbles, Weak & Conflicted, There is Clarity on the Streets of Tehran & in the Minds of James Hansen, Jane Hamsher & Joe Stiglitz

From Darfur, West Virginia, Downtown Jakarta, California & the Congo -- a Collective Cry for Freedom on Independence Day 2009

If you have not already joined the Alliance for Climate Protection, Al Gore and I urge you to do so. Click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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