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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An "Occupy Tucson" Speech by Al Anzaldua - Part 2

Is it a coincidence that after the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which kept investment banks from merging with insurance companies & commercial banks, was overturned by the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (Financial Services Modernization Act) and after Senate Banking Committee head Phil Gramm also inserted a provision into the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act that exempted derivatives like credit-default swaps from government oversight, that Wall Street banks went into a frenzy of mergers & then a frenzy of creating and selling opaque derivatives based on sub-prime loans leading to the 2008 economic collapse?  It is not a coincidence!  These acts of deregulation let the Wall Street foxes run wild in the U.S. economy henhouse!

We must break up the banks and bring back Glass-Steagall!  It was a good law that protected us for 66 years!   We must push for strengthening the Dodd-Frank Act so that all Wall Street derivatives are traded on open, transparent exchanges, like the stock exchange – not just in so-called “clearing houses” dominated by Wall Streeters.  Why is Wall Street so against derivative transparency?  Can you guess?

Some in the richest 1% have influenced members of Congress with bribes (political donations) and lobbyists to rig the tax system so that now the richest 1% make more money than the bottom 140 million people!  And the gap between rich & poor is growing!

If you hold up a 7-11 for a hundred dollars, you will go to jail, but if one of the banking plutocrats steals millions, he at most gets a “naughty naughty” from the press & slap-on-the-wrist fine.  What kind of justice is this?

… because the enemies of our 99% movement are perpetrating a lie – a big rotten lie – that 51% percent of Americans pay NO tax!  They repeat it over and over.  That’s what you do with a big lie.  The truth is that people working for a wage pay 15.3% payroll tax.  (In effect, they are paying 30%, etc.)  Then there’s state, county, and city sales taxes.  And property taxes.  Even renters pay property taxes (indirectly)!  Don’t let them get away with this lie!

Glenn Beck and others are predicting violent class war from us.  (“They will drag rich people out of their homes and businesses and kill them.”)  Don’t give the foes of the 99% movement ammunition to use against us!  Don’t let them divide, discredit, weaken us.  Don’t let them make a lie out of 99% unity.  We therefore must avoid not only violence, but even the hint of violence. Avoid masks and other face coverings.  Avoid compiling rich-people lists, especially ones with addresses.  We don’t need them to prevail.  We have nothing to hide.  They have plenty to hide!  Let them continue to wear their phony American-loving masks.  We can see beneath those masks!  Always remember that we have something stronger, more powerful than violence: We have persistence, we have the numbers, we are the 99%!

At the very least:  We continue demonstrating and organizing.  Before voting for a particular politician, find out how many of his/her staff aids and former staff aids are/were ex-corporate lobbyists or corporation officers.  Find out who the corporate front groups I mentioned are supporting.  Go to Source Watch and other websites and follow the money.  It will amaze you!  Support public financing bills for every level of government.

If you go to you will find a Declaration of Independence from Corporate Power to sign.  It reads:
I pledge my support for America’s founding principle of government of, by, and for the People.  I believe that a corporation is not a person, money is not speech, and corporate money should not be allowed in our country’s elections.
I pledge to work with other grassroots Americans for reforms that will free today’s politics from the dominating power of what Thomas Jefferson called “the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations.”
I encourage you sign this pledge and continue to demonstrate for economic justice!

Remember that we have something more powerful than violence, we have the power of persistence, the power of non-violent action, and if need be, non-violent resistance.  Persistence, Resistance, Non-Violence!  We have the power of numbers.  Potentially vast numbers.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

An "Occupy Tucson" Speech by Al Anzaldua - Part 1

Al Anzaldua gave this speech at an Occupy Tucson event in October, 2011:


In my lifetime, I’ve never seen the 99% of Americans so economically beleaguered, and I think I know

… because giant, multinational corporations have hijacked our politics and economy.  They are controlling or at least influencing the elections and political agendas of legislators (Fed & state), governors, and even some mayors and judges, as well as the agencies that are supposed to protect us, such as the FDA, USDA, & EPA.  Which corporations?  Examples include:  Monsanto, Exxon/Mobil, Mellon/Scaife Industries, Philip Morris (Altria), Merck, Cargill, Phizer, Koch Industries, Wall Street banks  -- i.e. Big Tobacco, Big Oil, Big Chemical, Big Agriculture, Big Coal, Big Pharmaceutical, Big Banking.  And don’t be fooled that just because a business is family owned, or is based in the U.S., that it’s a purely domestic company.  Koch industries, for example, family-owned and headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, has branches in 59 other countries!

…because a new type of fascism is creeping upon us.  The old fascism was national.  This new fascism is multinational.  In the old fascism, governments took over corporations.  In the new fascism, corporations are taking over governments!  I am not talking about mom & pop companies here.  I am speaking of group of gargantuan, multinational corporations moving towards monopoly or cartel as they squeeze out smaller businesses.  They are seizing power to the detriment of smaller businesses, which we need for a healthy economy.

The biggest of these corporations use the masquerade of libertarianism and American-sounding front groups to mislead, trick, the average U.S. citizen into thinking they are for a free market and freedom from “BIG GOVERNMENT.”  This is a cruel joke.  They want nothing of the sort!  They want big government, a powerful government with claws and teeth to protect them instead of you!  And the last thing they want is a freer market with lots of competition.  They want a rigged market, a rigged economy with taxpayer subsidies & government contracts for themselves!  For example, Koch Industries gets millions in government contracts each year and billions in government subsidies.  BTW, they don’t call this welfare.  No way!  They only call “welfare” what poor people get from government.  When they get government help, it’s called free enterprise!

Make no mistake, the corporate plutocrats lust for government, but a convenient government that always says “yes” to them, a government which allows them to produce deceptively labeled junk and GM food -- a Big Fat Government for them, but a lean and mean government for everyone else.  The humbug “libertarians” who run these corporations want liberty alright, the liberty to poison our air & water, while they foist tired, old, dirty technologies and fuels on us.  What are the front groups they employ?  Listen closely to their deceptive and wholesome-sounding names:  The Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Hudson Institute, Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Citizens for the Environment, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Freedom Works, Reason Foundation, American Legislative Exchange Council, Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, Bill of Rights Institute, Heartland Institute (I pass Heartland full-page ad around).  These front groups provide deceptive ads and studies, money & logistical support for politicians & movements they favor, and supposed neutral “experts” on TV & radio.  I want to remind you all that the biggest insurance companies & banks (AIG, Citigroup, Goldman Sacks, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America) are still too big to fail!!
As long as they remain gigantic, they can threaten our economy and blackmail us into bailing them out with our hard-earned money, which they use for million dollar bonuses and lobbying against our interests.

(Part 2 will be published next week)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reducing Suffering Worldwide

There is a great deal of suffering in the world.  There always has been, and many philosophers have noted it.  For humans, suffering may be due to famine, war, incarceration, disease, and many other causes, although those first four are probably the most important.  Over the past several hundred years, human suffering has been reduced considerably.  Famine, as always, is a regional phenomenon, but nowadays there are usually serious efforts to transport food to where it is needed.  There are not as many wars as there used to be.  Prisons are mostly less cruel than they used to be, although with many local exceptions.  And modern medicine and public health practices have reduced the prevalence of most diseases, as well as the suffering of those afflicted.  The pain of childbirth has also been greatly reduced by modern medical practice.  The same is true for injuries due to accidents.  Of course a large fraction of the world's population does not have access to modern medical practice, so there is still a lot of future progress possible.  In order for the world to continue the trend of reducing suffering, there must be enhanced food security globally, increased access to effective medical treatment, fewer & shorter wars, and fewer prisons with inhumane practices and conditions.  It's not clear that these things will happen.  One important impediment is continued growth of the human population, which reduces food security and motivates nations to go to war over dwindling resources.

The potential exists for the human race to reduce suffering for many species of animals as well.  I'm certainly not claiming it's likely any time soon, and may never happen.  I just want to point out that it's possible. Humans would have to first get their act together, stop having so many children worldwide, and get the human population down to a level that is sustainable, and with a good quality of life for all.  This is necessary because as the human population increases it is accompanied by a decrease in animal habitat.  This causes much suffering among the animal populations.  There are also many animals that are in the custodial care of humans.  These would be farm animals, laboratory animals, zoo animals, and pets.  There are already trends in place to reduce suffering of these animals; these trends would merely need to be continued.  When wild animals suffer it can be due to many different causes, and those vary from species to species. But a major cause of suffering for many of the large mammals is overpopulation. Most animals have high birth rates, and if conditions are right for a few years their populations can acheive levels such that the food supply is inadequate, leading to death by starvation for many.  Starving IS suffering.  Deer in many parts of North America illustrate this phenomenon.  Humans can reduce suffering of this type by population control efforts, either by hunting, or by birth control drugs administered either by bait or by dart.

In order for the processes described above to be implemented worldwide, it would probably require forcible intervention by some world body to change the governments and cultures of the many dysfunctional or nasty nations around the world.  (Syria, Zimbabwe, Somalia, North Korea, etc.)  I wrote about this possibility in an earlier article:

All of the above could be achieved by 2100 if that was what people, and their leaders, wanted.  Of course they don't actually want that, or rather it is very low on their list of priorities, so this is just a fantasy. A fantasy of the possible.