ANDREW MOSS – The state of labor this year is so fraught, so weighted with issues and problems, that a single day of homage and reflection doesn’t seem enough. It’s as if a year or more is needed to engage the issues, challenges, and possibilities facing American workers today.
FRIDA BERRIGAN – The problem isnâ€™t that we are spending more on the military â€” itâ€™s that it comes at the expense of just about every social good imaginable. Over the next decade, the Republican-held White House and Congress are planning over $5 trillion in cuts to the safety net.
FIONA HARVEY – Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP, according to a new study. The impacts are being felt most keenly in developing countries, according to the research, where damage to agricultural production from extreme weather linked to climate change is contributing to deaths from malnutrition, poverty and their associated diseases.
KATHY RUFFING – Social Securityâ€™s trustees recently reported that â€” over the next 75 years â€” Social Security will have a shortfall of 2.67 percent of taxable payroll, or 1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That is, raising taxes by an average of 1 percent of GDP could put Social Security on a sound footing over 75 years. How does that compare with the stakes involved with extending President Bushâ€™s tax cuts?
DR. JOSEPH GERSON -Beyond this hysteria, peace, labor and immigrant rights activists and scholars are gathering in Chicago for the May 18-19 Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice, to present the case against NATO-driven militarism.
DAVE JOHNSON- The highly-profitable company Verizon — the 16th largest corporation in America — is asking its workers for givebacks amounting to as much as $20,000 each, while tripling the compensation of CEO Lowell McAdam from $7.2 million to $23.1 million. The company made $22.5 billion in profits over the past four years while paying its top five executives $283 million over that period. Because of this the company has earned the nickname â€œVerigreedy.”
GEORGE GOEHL – We live in an America where more than 46 million Americans live below the poverty level. This is the highest poverty rate since the Census Bureau began publishing such figures.
DENNIS KUCINICH – Ten years ago, as we watched the Bush administration â€“ through Attorney General John Ashcroft – respond to the horrific events of 9/11/01, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio gave this stirring speech. Now, ten years later, measure Kucinichâ€™s wisdom against that which has been actually directing our nationâ€™s path
PRESS RELEASE – Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility announces its fourth annual Greenfield Peace Writing Contest for 11th or 12th grade students in Oregon. Students may enter by submitting an original piece of fiction, poem, or essay (maximum 600 words) reflecting on the following question:
LES LEOPOLD – Day in and day out we are told that if the government doesnâ€™t tighten its belt, weâ€™re all headed for debtorâ€™s prison. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are under attack. State budgets are in disarray. Teachers and firemen are getting canned. Public services are slashed. This is the new America and we’d better get used to it, the pundits proclaim. You would think we were a poor country.
NORMAN SOLOMON – On a recent day in Petaluma, two very different events spotlighted grim results of upside-down priorities from the federal government.
Upwards of 600 people gathered for an early breakfast at the Veterans Memorial Hall to raise money for the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS), a nonprofit organization that last year sheltered nearly 2,000 individuals, served more than 127,000 hearty meals and distributed 800,000 pounds of food to the needy.
CHARLES EISENSTEIN – Occupy has awakened a potent energy that had been lying dormant. It has made activists of people of a new generation, and brought renewed hope to veterans of past movements. Unlike earlier protest movements, it has not objected to any specific policy, such as segregation or the Vietnam War. It is a protest against a condition of society, highlighted by the maldistribution of wealth and debt whose symbol is Wall Street, that goes deeper than anything the Occupiers can easily name. As we say, no demand is big enough.
BILL MOYERS – Rarely have so few imposed such damage on so many. When five conservative members of the Supreme Court handed for-profit corporations the right to secretly flood political campaigns with tidal waves of cash on the eve of an election, they moved America closer to outright plutocracy, where political power derived from wealth is devoted to the protection of wealth. It is now official: Just as they have adorned our athletic stadiums and multiple places of public assembly with their logos, corporations can officially put their brand on the government of the United States as well as the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the fifty states.
PAT GARAFALO – Income inequality in the U.S. is currently the highest its been since the 1920s, with the 400 richest Americans (who are all billionaires) having as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of Americans combined. And as it turns out, just one wealthy family has managed to amass a fortune equal to that of the combined net worth of the bottom 30 percent of Americans â€” the Waltons, heirs to the Walmart fortune
BROOKE JARVIS – On December 3, just two days before Occupy L.A. was evicted by police, the General Assembly of the occupation passed a unanimous resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood.
CHRIS HEDGES – The Occupy movement is the force that will revitalize traditional Christianity in the United States or signal its moral, social and political irrelevance. The mainstream church, battered by declining numbers and a failure to defiantly condemn the crimes and cruelty of the corporate state, as well as a refusal to vigorously attack the charlatans of the Christian right, whose misuse of the Gospel to champion unfettered capitalism, bigotry and imperialism is heretical, has become a marginal force in the life of most Americans, especially the young.
MICHAEL MOORE – This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and goals of the movement. It was attended by 40+ people and the discussion was both inspiring and invigorating. Here is what we ended up proposing as the movement’s “vision statement” to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:
ETHICAL MARKETS – Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands lead the world in the 2011 Human Development Index (HDI), while the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, and Burundi are at the bottom of the Human Development Reportâ€™s annual rankings of national achievement in health, education, and income, released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
CHRIS HEDGES – Welcome to the revolution. Our elites have exposed their hand. They have nothing to offer. They can destroy but they cannot build. They can repress but they cannot lead. They can steal but they cannot share. They can talk but they cannot speak.
GLEN FORD – It was never in the cards for a plutocrat mayor to long tolerate a movement whose essential logic is the dissolution of his class. â€œIf the Occupy Wall Street movement has been about anything, it is the absolute necessity to rid the nation â€“ and the world â€“ of the collective tyranny of the Bloombergs, the dictatorship of the moneyed classes.â€ The next phase of the movement must more self-consciously â€œhave, at least, the goal of shutting down the infernal machines of capital.â€
RUSS BAKER – Conventional journalism is increasingly irrelevant in a time of crisis. We find abundant proof in a recent column from the New York Timesâ€™ so-called â€œPublic Editor,â€ who is supposed to somehow magically represent the public interest and rarefied ethical values to the rest of the paper.
SETH BORENSTEIN – It seems as if violence is everywhere, but it’s really on the run. Yes, thousands of people have died in bloody unrest from Africa to Pakistan, while terrorists plot bombings and kidnappings. Wars drag on in Iraq and Afghanistan. In peaceful Norway, a man massacred 69 youths in July. In Mexico, headless bodies turn up, victims of drug cartels. This month eight people died in a shooting in a California hair salon. Yet, historically, we’ve never had it this peaceful.
DAVID SWANSON – We can fit our demands on a bumpersticker: “Majority Rule” or “People Over Profits” or “Love Not Greed.” But we don’t want to. Our government is doing everything wrong, and we should be allowed to present the full list of grievances. We can, however, give the world a thousand words’ worth in an image, a pie chart to be exact. Our federal budget funds the wrong things. We want it to fund the right things.
CHRIS HEDGES – There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand up for the rights of the poor and the working class, have signed on to this movement because they fear becoming irrelevant. Union leaders, who pull down salaries five times that of the rank and file as they bargain away rights and benefits, know the foundations are shaking.
BERNARD E. HARCOURT – Our language has not yet caught up with the political phenomenon that is emerging in Zuccotti Park and spreading across the nation, though it is clear that a political paradigm shift is taking place before our very eyes. Itâ€™s time to begin to name and in naming, to better understand this moment. So let me propose some words: â€œpolitical disobedience.â€
ZAID JILANI – It may shock you to learn exactly how wealthy this top 1 percent of Americans is.
As the ongoing occupation of Wall Street by hundreds of protesters enters its third week â€” and as protests spread to other cities such as Boston and Los Angeles â€” demonstrators have endorsed a new slogan: â€œWe are the 99 percent.â€ This slogan refers to an economic struggle between 99 percent of Americans and the richest 1 percent of Americans, who are increasingly accumulating a greater share of the national wealth to the detriment of the middle class.
NATIONAL PRIORITIES PROJECT – Friday, October 7, 2011 will mark ten years since the beginning of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In light of an already increasing level of interest, the National Priorities Project (NPP) has released new numbers, analysis and tools around the costs of a decade at war.
DAVID MORRIS – For Republican presidential candidates the phrase â€œAmerican Exceptionalismâ€ has taken on almost talismanic qualities. Newt Gingrichâ€™s new book is titled, A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters. â€œAmerica the Exceptionalâ€ is the title of a chapter in Sarah Palinâ€™s book America by Heart.
ALEX DOHERTY – [It gives me especial pleasure to present this article to PeaceWorker readers because I recall hearing Mark Rudd speak at a rally on the U of California campus in 1968, just after the occupation he refers to below. I thought his rhetoric was wrong-headed at the time and am delighted that he â€“ who later became one of U.S. movementâ€™s most ardent supporters of violence â€“ has now come to appreciate the importance of nonviolence. â€“ Editor]
[From 1965 to 1968, Mark Rudd was a student activist and organizer in the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapter at Columbia University. He was one of the leaders of the Spring 1968 occupation of five buildings and the subsequent strike against the universityâ€™s complicity with the Vietnam war. After being kicked out of Columbia, he became a full-time organizer for SDS, where he helped found the militant Weatherman faction. Mark was elected National Secretary of SDS in June, 1969, then helped found the â€œrevolutionaryâ€ Weather Underground, which had as its goal â€œthe violent overthrow of the government of the U.S. in solidarity with the struggles of the people of the world.â€ Wanted on federal charges of bombing and conspiracy, Mark was a fugitive from 1970 to 1977. He spoke to NLPâ€™s Alex Doherty on the dangers of self-indulgent activism and his thoughts on current anti-war organizing in the United States.]