Tuesday, December 13, 2011

This is Disgraceful!

Within the past couple of years reports have surfaced out of Tennessee describing two incidents of firemen standing by as homes burned because the homes occupants did not pay annual fees to the county for firefighting services.  It is acknowledged by this writer that firefighters and their organizations are locally developed and maintained under various systems whether they be volunteer or governmentally based.   And it is acknowledged that local governments and NGOs are increasingly stretched under budgeting concerns.  But it also true that all of these organizations throughout the US ascribe to national standards of organization and practices, and receive at least some money from county, state, and federal sources in order to maintain continuity of standardized, quality services, thereby protecting life and property.  It should follow that appropriate funding be made available from public sources to satisfy the operational needs of these organizations.
When funds which are derived from taxes are diverted away from the public good and are instead squandered on the endless wars of imperialism, and the ability of the rich to make themselves richer, or when the economic base of the country is undermined by gambling schemes initiated by large corporate banks for the sake of the few, and corporate stockholders, or when large multi-national corporations having bought our supposed elected officials, collude with them to destroy organized labor and send jobs overseas for the sake of their obscene profiteering, the people suffer and the state becomes corrupt.  Perversity reigns when the moneys which should be available for the health and welfare of our citizens, is instead found in the pockets of the few, but filthy rich.
 There is an incredible amount of wealth in this country, unfortunately we increasingly find it in the hands of those who live like parasites on the backs of those who must carry the burden.  Part of that burden, in this case, is the pain and heartache of watching ones home burn as those who have the ability to remedy the situation stand by and do nothing.
This is disgraceful! We have lost our sense of civility toward one another. We are so afraid that someone is going to get something they don't "deserve", that someone is going to get one up on us. What has become of the concept of civic duty?  We have become more concerned with profiteering, the imposition of morality and religiosity, than the extension of compassion and care of one another.
We can't continue along this path and consider ourselves a civilized nation.  For what purpose does a nation or a state serve but to act in accordance with the welfare of its citizens? Is providing fire protection services not a perfect example of how to support the greater good?
The conditions behind letting that home burn are in opposition to maintaining the greater good of our citizens, the original reasons for the establishment of this nation, and in fact, have become “destructive of these ends”.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Grievances of the People

I post this list of grievances which I have developed, having been inspired by the NYC General Assembly's "Declaration of the Occupation of New York City", accepted by the same on 1 Oct 2011. This "Declaration" explains why Occupy Wall Street has come to exist.

I view "Grievances" as a living document and will adjust and extend the list as new conditions are realized.

Please feel free to extend and distribute as necessary. Of course, your comments are always welcome.

Michael Melendez

The Grievances of the People

20 November 2011

The power of the moneyed class has by virtue of establishing a corporate state:

  1. Placed profits above the health of the people by opposing and corrupting any form of universal health care
  2. Manipulated the cost and availability of life saving medicines in order to amass obscene profits among international corporations
  3. Placed profits above the health of the planet by engaging in extractive processes, and farming practices designed irrespective of their impact on long term survivability of vital ecosystems
  4. Produced a system of corporate personhood, providing corporations with rights and advantages without culpability or responsibility, allowing for, and developing a culture promoting sociopathic behavior among the same
  5. Privatized public assets and institutions in order to extend the concentration of private wealth
  6. Helped to maintained the world’s dependence on petroleum fuels in order amass huge fortunes at the expense of human and planetary health and general well being
  7. Repeatedly, and with forethought, impeded and deliberately interfered with individual communities’ efforts toward developing systems of self determination, and social and economic justice
  8. Manipulated the monetary and banking systems to the point of collapse and stole money from the greater population in an attempt to repair damage to their fortunes as a result their greed, without suffering the consequences of their actions
  9. Instigated and supported illegal foreign wars through deliberate lies and fear mongering in order to extend their control over the domestic resources of other sovereign nations
  10. Instigated and supported foreign wars for the sake of the sale of military arms to other countries as well as the production and sale of arms domestically
  11. Militarized the domestic, state and local police forces in order to enforce their policies, limit the people’s constitutional rights, and further their criminal behavior
  12. Helped to pervert the democratic process by establishing and codifying political influence through bribes and other obscene financial instruments brought to bear against our elections and established institutions
  13. Deliberately and systematically interfered with citizens ability to demand redress to the ills brought against them by corporations and de facto, privately controlled public institutions
  14. Initiated and perpetuated drug wars both foreign and domestic for the sake of extending American hegemony to foreign shores, as well as to engender domestic cultural conflict
  15. Worked to control the food supply and human genome for the sake of exclusive profiteering
  16. Conspired with major media organizations in order to lie and hide the truth in order to spread fear and divisiveness, and maintain hegemony, at home and abroad
  17. Repeatedly violated the sanctity of First and Fourth amendment constitutional rights of its citizenry for the sake of security, control, and profiteering

Saturday, November 19, 2011

11/16/11 Transcript

Adios Babylon 11/16/2011 transcript

Michael Melendez

In the early hours of Tuesday morning the NYC police forcibly evicted OWS from Zuccotti Park, arresting some, and destroying much of the property of the occupiers. The machine continues to flex its muscle in an effort to discourage and ultimately destroy the grass roots movement which has risen up in protest of those would systematically act against the well being of the people and the planet from which we draw our life force. All is done in the name of the public good for sake of safety, security, and the need to protect property. We have all heard these excuses repeatedly emanated from fascist regimes of yesteryear. But we are here today watching and hearing what is happening and sometimes it is difficult to believe in what we are experiencing. Is this really happening? After all, we are repeatedly told of how the US remains the beacon of freedom and opportunity in the world.

But, do let us revisit the reasons that people are in the street, and take the time to consider that the reactions of the economically powerful, represented by the increasingly militarized police forces, are easily anticipated as they act to maintain their power and control.

Powerful corporations have taken control of our government on an unprecedented scale. They act in concert with elected officials to set the stage to their advantage at the expense of the average citizen and the health the earth. This unholy union manipulates and lies in order to obfuscate the truth of their intentions. Meanwhile, as we seek the facts concerning the consequences of their policies and occult machinations, we find that economic power continues to be extracted from the lower and middle classes and concentrated in the hands of the moneyed few. [02:00]

Recent statistics released by the U. S. Census Bureau help quantify the growing disparity between the haves and those who have increasingly less.

[Alternet article: Extreme Poverty Is Now at Record Levels…][09:00]

[Yubanet article: 6000 in Nevada ounty were Food Insecure…][03:30]

From Wikipedia, “Income inequality in the United States” [00:45]

“The distribution of income in the United States is becoming increasingly unequal. In 2010, the top 20% of Americans earned 49.4% of the nation’s income, compared with the 3.4% earned by Americans living below the poverty line (roughly 15% of the population). This earnings ratio of 14.5 to 1 was an increase from the 13.6 to 1 ratio in 2008 and a significant rise from the historic low of 7.69 to 1 in 1968.[14] Looking back even further to 1915, an era in which the Rockefellers and Carnegies dominated American industry, the richest 1% of Americans earned roughly 18% of all income. Today, the top 1% account for 24% of all income.[15]

From Vanity Fair, May 2011 [02:00]

by Joseph E. Stiglitz

“When you look at the sheer volume of wealth controlled by the top 1 percent in this country, it’s tempting to see our growing inequality as a quintessentially American achievement—we started way behind the pack, but now we’re doing inequality on a world-class level. And it looks as if we’ll be building on this achievement for years to come, because what made it possible is self-reinforcing. Wealth begets power, which begets more wealth. During the savings-and-loan scandal of the 1980s—a scandal whose dimensions, by today’s standards, seem almost quaint—the banker Charles Keating was asked by a congressional committee whether the $1.5 million he had spread among a few key elected officials could actually buy influence. “I certainly hope so,” he replied. The Supreme Court, in its recent Citizens United case, has enshrined the right of corporations to buy government, by removing limitations on campaign spending. The personal and the political are today in perfect alignment. Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office. By and large, the key executive-branch policymakers on trade and economic policy also come from the top 1 percent. When pharmaceutical companies receive a trillion-dollar gift—through legislation prohibiting the government, the largest buyer of drugs, from bargaining over price—it should not come as cause for wonder. It should not make jaws drop that a tax bill cannot emerge from Congress unless big tax cuts are put in place for the wealthy. Given the power of the top 1 percent, this is the way you would expect the system to work.”

We can add to this a long list of grievances. [01:30]

For instance, the power of the moneyed class has:

  • Placed profits above the health of the people by opposing and corrupting any form of universal health care
  • Placed profits above the health of the planet by engaging in extractive processes, and farming practices designed irrespective of their impact on long term survivability of vital ecosystems
  • Produced a system of corporate personhood, providing corporations with rights and advantages without culpability or responsibility
  • Instigated and supported foreign wars in order to extend their control to the domestic resources of other sovereign nations
  • Instigated and supported foreign wars for the sake of the sale of military arms to other countries as well as the production and sale of arms domestically
  • Initiated and perpetuated drug wars both foreign and domestic for the sake of extending American hegemony to foreign shores as well as to maintain domestic cultural conflict
  • Worked to control the food supply and human genome for the sake of exclusive profiteering
  • Conspired with major media organizations in order to lie and hide the truth to maintain hegemony at home and abroad

The list goes on beyond reason, for there is nothing the machine will not try to either control or corrupt to maintain its power. That is why it is so important to speak our truth as we see it, to stay in the streets, and continue to organize and plan for the next phase of this movement. We need to maintain the message that we are through with the lies and corrupting influences that put profits ahead of people, thereby keeping people oppressed and unable to realize their full human potential.

What's Next?

What is Next?

Michael Melendez 11/09/2011

I am here today to raise more questions than I am able to answer. The largest question that continues to visit me is what comes next as a result of OWS. For those of us who agree with the occupation and the points of their declaration issued October 2, 2011, we need to ask what we can do to transform this incredible social/political energy into fundamental change. Change which dares to step outside of the business-as-usual methods controlled by the power elite in an inverted totalitarian system, a system which functions as a machine for generating obscene profits at the expense of its citizenry.

The grievances aired by Occupy Wall Street at their Sept. 29 General Assembly in a document known as the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, beg for human dignity and fair play in all aspects of human culture. They address conditions vital to sustainable human existence and the long term health of our planet, these grievances speak to practices based on the generation of power and obscene profitability. What is being expressed here in the US is the same as that which is being fought for in Egypt, Greece, Syria, and so on. Just as these conditions are globally experienced and expressed, so do we find power being projected by international corporations, organizations which exist for the generation of profit above all else, and the governmental structures which do their bidding. This machine is powerful and pervasive. It has the means of perpetuating itself through brute force and clever manipulation of its media and communication apparatus. It is comprised of the very powerful who are not likely to relinquish that power without first feeling their very existence to be threatened.

The power of the machine has been bolstered due to a concentration of wealth among the top 1% that has accelerated since the Reagan administration. The last time we were close to this was in the ‘30’s when FDR, acting for the moneyed class, had to act in order to save capitalism. He succeeded in making just enough concessions to the lower classes; thereby allowing them to feel empowered and cared for. The gains made during that period have been steadily eroded though, particularly in the past 30 years, beginning with poster boy Reagan’s purportedly successful against “big government:. The struggle continues today as we find ourselves pitched against an increasingly powerful police state that unabashedly acts on behalf of an increasingly powerful oligarchy entrenched in the protective matrix of a sophisticated corporatocracy.

I run the risk of droning on in order to illustrate the immensity of the job ahead of us if we are to be successful in turning this country around by wresting power from the top and redistributing it among those work-a-day citizens who produce real wealth. The work ahead is herculean.

Are Americans prepared for the long term commitment required to undo a powerfully entrenched foe? Will the majority of the population truly come to understand that the 1% will continue to work for the 1% while chewing through human lives, and degrading and disrespecting the planet?

Will the Occupy movement prove capable of continuously reinventing itself in order to keep its vital energy alive and dynamic? Will it continue to attract organized labor, minorities, the LGBT community, veterans, and yes, even the cops themselves? Will it prove capable of including all citizens in a truly integrated movement acting as a collaborative counter force against those who would keep us disunited and weak? Will it find ways to produce real change outside of the systems machinery, or will it be co-opted into the morass of traditional politics and the smothering effect of our current, bought-and-paid for, ineffectual electoral system?

Are Americans motivated or uncomfortable and committed enough to stay the course, finding new ways of exerting their power as citizens en masse, those who produce wealth as a result of their labor and their inherent power and beauty as human beings?

What is next? What can we do to keep this movement alive against the enormity of the machine? What do we need to do in preparation of the next stage of this movement? How shall we organize ourselves and our communities? How do we prepare for power acting out of fear? How many of their army divisions will march against the people?

Demonstrations and sign waving make us feel as if we are involved and making a difference. But what will the net effect be on the behavior of the machine men? “Legal” marches and other accepted protestations are cute, but seldom form any lasting system change. It could even be argued that this is just another form of cooperation with the state, with all of the dancers knowing their parts and working together for the sake of the show. Is this true? What effective alternatives might we produce?

As Charlie Chaplin pointed out 70 years ago when fascism reared its head under the banners of Hitler, Mussolini, and imperial Japan: we are not machine men, let us not behave that way. Let us not give way to the machine.