Saturday, September 24, 2011

Are you energized and excited about the 2012 Elections?

Most Americans, regardless of political affiliation, would answer no. Watching the Republican candidates “debate” on multiple occasions reminds me of how an elderly Hispanic woman described American food, “It is light brown, dark brown and green; and it all tastes the same.” Ron Paul, who advocates for an end to the “Patriot” Act, pulling our troops out of Afghanistan & Iraq, and ending American Empire, provided the only moments of interest. Sadly, these were offset by his views on healthcare and social programs that, if implemented, would push American society back to a pre-Theodore Roosevelt social Darwinism.

The Democratic side of the aisle provides all the spectrum of food service choice found in coach class on a budget airline. Apologists for President Obama, desperately trying to convince progressives to vote for him, resort to, “He’s better than the alternatives.” That alone is a comment on the President’s litany of half-measures and outright “Cave-ins” to Republicans.

We got Healthcare “Reform,” instead of a Single Payor or a National Healthcare PLAN. The “Reform” does not fully kick in for another two years and three months (too bad if you need health care before the kick in date) and requires Americans to purchase health insurance out of pocket, sort of like we are required to purchase automobile insurance out of pocket. Why are there so many “irresponsible” uninsured drivers? Because the poor cannot afford monthly automobile insurance payments, yet they still need to get to their part time jobs. The “public exchanges” and special subsides to the poor offer a complex and frustrating series of hurdles to people who are least equipped to successfully navigate such obstacles. Setting aside EPA laws, Financial “Reform” akin to requiring an additional fire extinguisher on the Hindenburg and reauthorizing George “W” Bush’s tax break to millionaires adds to an increasingly frustrating and seemingly inexplicable series of decisions by President Obama.

Seemingly inexplicable, until you ask who benefits from all these policies “mistakes,” Corporations are awash in over two trillion dollars, while average Americans suffer a worsening second Great Depression. Essentially, American’s choices in the 2012 Election will boil down to Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum. A Corporation candidate who is also a social Darwinist, or a Corporation candidate who will offer limited concessions to progressives on “social issues.” Either way, Corporations will fund the candidate’s political campaigns and thereby continue to dictate America’s economic policies, energy policies, healthcare policies, and foreign policy. The rest is a sideshow between the teabaggers and social progressives meant to generate the illusion of democracy.

So, why did the media fail to cover weeklong protests on Wall Street by demonstrators demanding real economic reforms and real policy changes? Because Wall Street owns the politicians and the media and they don't want you to realize you have it within your power to take your country back. Caesar’s old maxim, “Divide and Rule,” will continue to work until, like the demonstrators on Wall Street, the American people realize that their enemies are not fellow citizens with differing social views, but the Corporations that have foreclosed on their homes, force them to pay exorbitant fuel costs, outsource their jobs to third world nations, use the resultant economic depression as a license to eliminate the social safety networks of FDR while striping workers of collective bargaining powers, and substantively weakened the Bill of Rights through the “Patriot” Act.


colkoch said...

"The rest is a sideshow between the teabaggers and social progressives meant to generate the illusion of democracy."

Spot on, as was the rest of this post. The only piece I would add is that the Obama administration has successfully made gay causes part of this generation of the illusion of democracy. We should have seen this coming when he stacked his administration with so many Clinton corporate operatives.

Lucrece said...

They ignore the protests because it takes one look at that audience to know it's a bunch of bored college kids just wanting a new experience.

Instead of actually organized movements with more in mind than dancing and wailing outside some businesses. Setting camps does not impress the average person.

If they gave well-thought out speeches and put out visible material pointing out the crimes committed by orporations, it'd be good.

Marching to end "greed" is infantile. Greed is not going to end. What you can do is scare those who overtly frolick in it by exposing them for everyone to see. That way the nenxt batch is at least leery of pushing the envelope.

Father Geoff said...

Dear Lucrece,

I grew up in the 1960's during the Vietnam War protests & the Civil Rights movement. Your comment, "it's a bunch of bored college kids that just wanting a new experience." Sounds reminiscent of how political conservatives of that era described Kent State. Yet, NBC, ABC and CBS (the three big channels at the time) all covered those protests. Something has changed, eh?

In answer to your question about a well thought out speech, here are their reasons for protest, in their own words:

"A Message From Occupied Wall Street (Day Five)
Published 2011-09-22 07:51:42 UTC by OccupyWallSt

This is the fifth communiqué from the 99 percent. We are occupying Wall Street.

On September 21st, 2011, Troy Davis, an innocent man, was murdered by the state of Georgia. Troy Davis was one of the 99 percent.

Ending capital punishment is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, four of our members were arrested on baseless charges.

Ending police intimidation is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, the richest 400 Americans owned more than half of the country’s population.

Ending wealth inequality is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, we determined that Yahoo lied about being in spam filters.

Ending corporate censorship is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, roughly eighty percent of Americans thought the country was on the wrong track.

Ending the modern gilded age is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, roughly 15% of Americans approved of the job Congress was doing.

Ending political corruption is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of Americans did not have work.

Ending joblessness is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of America lived in poverty.

Ending poverty is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, roughly fifty million Americans were without health insurance.

Ending health-profiteering is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, America had military bases in around one hundred and thirty out of one hundred and sixty-five countries.

Ending American imperialism is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, America was at war with the world.

Ending war is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, we stood in solidarity with Madrid, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Madison, Toronto, London, Athens, Sydney, Stuttgart, Tokyo, Milan, Amsterdam, Algiers, Tel Aviv, Portland and Chicago. Soon we will stand with Phoenix, Montreal, Cleveland and Atlanta. We’re still here. We are growing. We intend to stay until we see movements toward real change in our country and the world.

You have fought all the wars. You have worked for all the bosses. You have wandered over all the countries. Have you harvested the fruits of your labors, the price of your victories? Does the past comfort you? Does the present smile on you? Does the future promise you anything? Have you found a piece of land where you can live like a human being and die like a human being? On these questions, on this argument, and on this theme, the struggle for existence, the people will speak. Join us.

We speak as one. All of our decisions, from our choice to march on Wall Street to our decision to continue occupying Liberty Square, were decided through a consensus based process by the group, for the group."

For a more complete and detailed analysis of their motivation, I would respectfully suggest reading, " The Secret History of the American Empire" by John Perkins. [ISBN # 978-0-452-28957-4]

Tal said...

Father Geoff, as always, a well written and provocative post. I would, however, like to add a contrary view.

I agree that the U.S. is off track. But the question is why, and what are the causes?

Ultimately, I view our problems as arising from the entrenchment of vested interests (big businesses, unions, political parties and bureaucrats) and the rigidification, torpor and fragility that introduces into a civilization. The longer the process of entrenchment continues, and the rules to protect it thicken, the harder it becomes for society to resolve the problems that arise, both external and internal. Because the world is dynamic and not monolithic, the net result of a society robbed of its flexibility is failure and collapse. (This pattern has repeated itself time and again with many civilizations, including Egypt several times, Rome, Pre-Revolution France & etc.)

The issue as I see it is not free markets, free enterprise or the opportunities for riches and wealth (i.e., income disparity earned through hard work and dedication--the American way), but the inefficiencies and restrictions imposed on competition by alliances between big-business, the super-rich, giant unions and government, which usually expresses itself in regulations and legislation that impose barriers to entry, reward longevity over performance, and thereby keep the average person from having access to opportunity.

Government, while important, is not our ultimate solution, because it's incapable of efficiently dedicating capital to productive ends. Certainly, government, which is macro and can only effect whatever it touches with the finesse of a cudgel, even under the best of conditions, can only favor large over small, regardless of the efficiencies or what would make sense to the individual, the essential unit of measure that I believe must be of prime relevance to society (and certainly so under the Constitution).

Of course, that's not to say free markets are perfect. But they are by far the most efficient and impartial allocator of goods, services and resources yet devised.

Government, of course, has it's role in providing a social safety net, correcting for clear and significant instances of market failure and enforcing and defending individual rights and liberties. But we've now seen what happens when we appeal to government as the arbiter of who wins and who loses: we lose, and we leave ourselves and our ability to access the American Dream to the politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, and those who can afford pay them. (After all, why compete in the marketplace when you can effectively bribe government for far less money to obtain a surer result).

And so here we are today, with everything from a public education system that makes it impossible to fire ill-performing teachers, to string-free bailouts for the banks and auto industry, no-bid military contracts, and the unconstitutional healthcare reform legislation of last year which proved a boon to the health insurance industry but at great and uncertain cost to industry, and especially small business. (A single payer system at least is constitutional, although I think ill advised given the severely deteriorated condition of the Canadian and UK healthcare systems.)

The U.S. became great because it permitted every person access to opportunity and to enjoy the fruits of their labors. The promise of success through hard work, loyalty and dedication. Individual initiative generates jobs and wealth. That's what I believe we need to return to.

William D. Lindsey said...

Fr. Geoff, thank you for this insightful analysis. I love the food analogy of your Hispanic friend--and it absolutely applies to our political "choices" right now.

Mary in Austin said...

I'm from Texas.
I am energized about the 2012 elections because I don't want the various Republican-inspired disasters that have befallen Texas to hit the rest of the country.
I have been disappointed by President Obama in many ways, but y'all up there in the smarter states really, really don't want to see what a President Perry will do.

Father Geoff said...

Dear Mary,

As my friend Lt. Dan Choi says, "The Democrats are 'less evil."

What we will do in November 2012 we will decide in November of 2012 based on realities then. What we do today, will help to define our choices then. Check out the folks at Occupy Wall Street for what we can do NOW.