Friday, June 3, 2011

The People - The States

It is true that anything man made can be changed. This applies to laws that have been disregarded and to broken social contracts.

From Social Security to Medicare, from worker's rights to Union busting, from the Department of Education to a dismal Health Care and Prison systems.  Everything can be made to work better and on behalf of the citizens of the United States, if we can kick the multinational corporations to the curb.

While for years we lived in apathy complaining to each other about the government, calling them crooks and not being interested in our political landscape, something odd happened; we got hit on 9/11 by terrorists and got over our apathy in a heart beat.  

We did not like the Bush Administration but we solidified around fear and the common goal of keeping each other safe. We all know how all this ends.  It ends badly.

We engaged in bogus wars under the guise of National Security.  We sent thousands of our own to slaughter in a foreign country so corporations could rape and pillage the oil fields on behalf of Halliburton and other multinational corporations.  We spent unaccounted trillions of dollars on these wars by privatizing what the military used to do.

We are disgusted. 

Our men and women are serving next to mercenaries who have better equipment and are paid in six-figures.  The corruption is not only out of control, but blatant.  The kind of in-your-face and nothing-you-can-do-about-it corruption.  They basically told us to suck it up and take it, because corporate America was in charge of our blood and treasure with the blessings of our elected officials and the Supreme Court.

President Barack Obama

Enter Barack Obama who wins by a landslide thanks to a population that is jaded, beaten and mentally and emotionally exhausted.  His message of Hope and a fresh start resonates with all of us, but we never imagined that the corporations would continue to fight to stay in power and control, not only in Washington, but to blatantly extend their grasp into Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida and Indiana to name a few.

Let's be honest, we did not know their true reach and to a large extent, we still don't know.  Investigative reporting and journalism are almost extinct in our country because there is no real freedom of the press since networks and other news outlets are owned by corporations and monopolies. 

We also don't have a law, as they do in Canada, that prohibits lying in the news. (Okay, that is just simple and cool... can we have it here too?...please?)

Wisconsin

Wisconsin has been on a wild ride in the ongoing fight to preserve worker's rights to collective bargain and fighting a mentality that vilifies teachers and all civil servants.  

With unions dwindling across the Nation and worker's rights systematically being eroded by corporations that treat workers as disposable commodities, the country has kept a vigilant eye on Wisconsin's workers' struggles and taking notes.  These other state want to unify successfully against Republican governors that are, enthusiastically, applying the same tactics to dismantle Unions, eliminate funding from education, and get rid of fire fighters and police officers.

These governors did not wake up one fine morning deciding to destroy their states and the working class, it was all planned ahead of time.  While they were elected by the general population, their funding and direction comes from the likes of the Koch brothers, The Heritage Foundation and Carl Rove's many incantations among others.  

Current Status for WisconsinRecall petition signatures have been collected for various legislators and Wisconsin citizens have gotten an early start on recalling Governor Scott Walker in preparation to oust him at the end of his first year.  

If all goes well, Wisconsin will have a special election sometime in June for these legislators and will be able to press the "recall button" on their governor in a few more months.

Wisconsin has showed the nation that Worker's rights are the rights of the middle class and taking away collective bargaining and chipping away at social foundations is not only detrimental to one state, but to all states.  All our States  economics are intertwined in a complex ritual of consumer spending, manufacturing, transportation and innovation. What happens in Wisconsin, affects all of us in various ways.

North Dakota

The only state that has a state bank is North Dakota and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics North Dakota's unemployment rate as of April 2011 is 3.2 % and declining.  So far, North Dakota has inspired 11 other states to pass legislation that would enabled them to cut their dependency on Wall Street banks and keep the money in the communities they serve.  These include California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Arizona, New Mexico, Washington State, Maine, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana and Virginia.  The Public Banking Institute keeps up-to-date records on each state's status.

California

The state of California has passed through the state legislature single-payer health care.  Not once, but twice.  Former governor, Arnold Schwatznegger vetoed the bills twice during his tenure.  California has an excellent chance of passing it this third time around since they elected Jerry Brown, a progressive Democrat that has vast experience as Attorney General, former Governor of California, Oakland Mayor and once again, Governor of California.

If  you recall, We, The People, forked over $700 Billion dollars and that is the number we are going to stick with for now, however, Mother Jones explains the cost of the bailout to an incomprehensible $7.2 trillion. 
 
California is putting things in place to be the second state to have its own bank. This move will serve to keep funding local and to serve their communities without being dependent on Wall Street.  California is the 8th largest world economy and they should do very well financially.

California is also benefiting from Florida's rejection of Federal funds to build a high-speed transit system.  While construction will begin slowly, it will dramatically reduce the unemployment numbers in the state and help stabilize its economy.

Florida

Big mistake, big mistake, big mistake. They elected Rick Scott as their governor who is hell-bent on destroying unions (sound familiar?), firing state employees, turn the government into a nanny-state that requires urine, blood and saliva samples to conduct testing on state employees and recipients of federal and state benefits.  

The costs of these test is horrific and their application discriminatory. There is no recourse in place to contest botched tests or positive results from prescription medication.  Rick Scott has also refused billions of dollars of stimulus money to build high-speed-rail, but had no problem taking over $200 million of stimulus funds to offset the state's budget and compensate the many medical facilities he owns, is part of, benefits from, and will likely conduct the mandatory drug testing he so cleverly mandates.

Mistakes can be corrected and Floridians are initiating their own recall efforts to get rid of some of their legislators.  Public efforts to recall Rick Scott are under way, but state law does not have a "recall button" like Wisconsin does for the Governor.  This is something that Floridians may want to consider as they go through the process of recalling other officials.

Vermont

While the noise of distractions is deafening, Vermont has quietly gone about its business and passed legislation into law to institute single-payer health insurance.  The legislation was signed into law by Governor Peter Shumlin on May 2011.  Vermont is the first state to pass this law.

For those who advocate "state rights" this should be a cause of celebration but it is not.  The idea of state rights, is only good in theory, once it becomes a reality that benefits the population, corporatist begin to shiver.

While we are all inundated by strident distractions and personal attacks in social media, it does the soul good to realize that some of our elected officials and the people of our states are working tirelessly to rectify wrongs and give the power of government back to the people. 

We are the government and we are working to get our power back.  The way it is being done in the above mentioned states, is the best and most honorable way to proceed.  However, a little help from the Justice Department to prosecute those who interfere with voter rights, would be greatly appreciated.

We are a young country that has hit middle-age.  We are wiser now and learn a lot quicker from our collective past.

There is Hope - Peace
Image: By Rickipedia799 [Public domain]

3 comments:

BlueTrooth said...

Interesting observation regarding North Dakota and the State Bank. They are also benefiting from an oil boom. It's hard to point to N Dakota as a "model", but it does point out that our financial "malaise" is not insurmountable. It also points to the opportunity in energy production, preferably renewable/sustainable, however. And it most certainly points to the advantages of a State Bank that is interdependent with the localized economy.
On Wisconsin! I'm convinced the recall elections will have a significant impact on the Democratic Party momentum. The biggest reason is that they will provide a platform of media attention to speak to the broader, national issues of job creation versus job elimination (through State and potentially Federal govt action). My hope is that the narrative can be tweaked enough to point to the deviant strategy of the GOP which begins with eliminating "security" for Americans and maintaining an environment of uncertainty. A common theme from the GOP in attacking government Unions and workers themselves is that their jobs are "too cushy". That they don't share the same "fear" of losing their job and they get real health care insurance and *GASP!* they can afford to KEEP their homes! This theme extends to anyone that isn't a CEO or "small business owner". They are pushing the agenda of lowering wages, lowering quality of life and increasing labor dependency on the whims of the "Masters of the Universe". While it's easy to try to shame individual "voices" on Twitter or on blogs and we shouldn't relent on that course, I'm hoping for more "big picture" viewpoints that focus on the marriage of technology and capitalism and the manipulation of the labor market through ulterior strategy and collaboration. Not a true conspiracy, it's more along the lines of Organized Crime and "Where DID those Mobsters go?". The Mobsters went into the "legit Corporate World" because hey, that's where the real money is.

Robin said...

Olivia –
So nice to read your blog; I don’t agree with many of your points of view but you have so much passion about it!

Although your tirade about “multinational corporations” has some elements of truth to it – thinking of corporations as the enemy will never solve these problems. As the saying goes: “We have met the enemy... and he is us” (Walt Kelly). Multinational corporations – for the most part are not aliens from outer space but creations of ourselves and reflect OUR views, morals, ethics, etc. Whether you are a stock holder or not; business behaves according to what is generally accepted by the public.
The real problem is the American people. We are victims of ourselves. This is how I see the general problem summarized in three basic areas:

• We have lived WAY beyond our means; both as a nation and as individuals. The county is in debt up to its eyeballs and so is a large portion of the population. The politicians refuse to make any hard decisions when borrowing is so easy and individuals do the same. This has put us in a serious situation that will now require sacrifice for those that were not complacent at all – the young.

• As you said in your last post – we aren’t “keeping our eye on the ball”. The vast majority would rather be tantalized by “Weiner” type scandals than focus on sustentative issues. This is primarily because we feel completely disenfranchised. Powerless to do anything that will actually effect change. As that idiot Sarah Palin says hitting the nail on the head “How’s that hope–ie, change-ie stuff working out for ya?” Things have not really changed because we have not changed.

• Polarization. It is so easy to demonize the opposition. And don’t fool yourself into thinking it s only the right that does this. You are doing it in this post. MSNBC does it constantly – and as more moderate democratic I find myself not being able to stomach that station anymore. Often finding them far more fanatical than Fox News (or at least not as good at it). What people forget is that the opposition is also mostly human and has a legitimate point of view. In fact, if the political environment was not so enflamed I think the vast majority of people would find common ground on many issues. The lack of respect of other views is destroying democracy.

The solution can be found in individual people changing their behavior; enough individual people that the complexion of America changes.

robin

Olivia Emisar said...

Thanks for your comments. Robin, part of me wants to agree with you and the other side does not. I don't see the GOP machine as benevolent, I see it as evil. A means to destruction of the Middle Class. The facts don't lie and if that's demonizing, we'll have to agree to disagree.

On your point on MSNBC, I find some of those shows hard to take, but in the end, that is all there is. Fox controls everything else. There are no other stations where progressives, liberals or democrats can relate to.

You and I, as individuals can change ourselves, however, our government can only be ours when the corporations get out of government. You can't have a government for the people and by the people when policies and laws are drafted by an organization and given to legislators to pass into law with all the talking points.

Thank you for your comments, I always enjoy reading other's opinions.