Our media system is broken. It’s primary customer tends to be its advertising partners, who carry an inevitable bias toward corporate power, profit, and self-interest. The large media conglomerates are not fulfilling their role in propping up our democracy as the “four estate.” Instead, we get “infotainment” that feigns the standards of journalist.
The America I know is generous and compassionate; a land of opportunity and optimism. We take responsibility for ourselves and each other; for the country we want and the future we share. We are the nation that built a railroad across a continent and brought light to communities shrouded in darkness. We sent a generation to college on the GI bill and saved millions of seniors from poverty with Social Security and Medicare. We have led the world in scientific research and technological breakthroughs that have transformed millions of lives.
We now have over half a million military personnel serving on more than 737 military bases all over the world. These bases are on more than 130 countries. According to the late military scholar, Chalmers Johnson, these bases facilitate the “policing” of the globe and are meant to ensure that no other nation, friendly or hostile, can ever challenge us militarily. He predicts that military spending will “sooner or later…threaten our nation with bankruptcy.” Many would argue that a strong military is necessary because it is a deterrent to potential adversaries. Really? Then explain to me why our tax-payer-funded military bases include a ski center, over 200 military golf courses, dozens of luxury jets, and many luxury hotels. Conservatives like to compare government (public) workers (such as military personnel and Wisconsin teachers) with private workers, insisting, for instance, that Wisconsin teacher, police, and firefighters’ pensions and wages are too generous compared to what private workers are paid (to justify why unions should be crushed). So I am sure they will not want to make the argument that military personnel should have private golf courses and other superfluous luxuries that those in the private sector do not enjoy.
There’s a substantial body of research that shows a crystal-clear relationship between unionization rates, stagnating wages, and increased inequality and poverty. That’s true in all countries…[and they] perform no worse in terms of creating jobs.” Yet there has been a concerted effort by the Corporate Right to turn the American people against unions; to make them believe that, “unions are corrupt, perhaps even mobbed up, and their work helps only union bosses and their political patrons, while screwing over workers.”
Capitalism can mean dramatically different things to different people. To a Wall Street executive it means being able to accumulate unimaginable wealth. To big business it is a competitive game that must be won at all costs, even at the expense of the public interest. To a small businessman with a great idea, it means being able to turn his passion into an occupation, and enjoy the freedom of self-employment. To many, it is a system that has increased the standards of living for millions. To its victims, capitalism is a monster whose greed leaves many behind, and even commits great crimes against helpless citizens. Which view is correct? All of them.
If by capitalism we mean creating markets that meet the needs of the public, allowing the best ideas and products to succeed through demand, then this is a highly democratic system that should be encouraged. If capitalism means “greed is good,” and we should look out for our own self-interest at all costs than this is a very anti-social, destructive philosophy that must be tempered.
Infrastructure spending was only 7.5% of the 2009 stimulus. Yet one dollar invested in infrastructure has a return of $1.59 in GDP growth, while most tax cuts don’t even return 50 cents.
The bottom line is this: Climate change (or global warming, if you like) is a well-tested, provable fact, not a hypothesis. The question that scientists have been working on in recent years has been, “To what extent is global warming being influenced by human behavior?” This is a key question because the answer empowers us to do something about this problem, especially as we learn more about the devastating consequences of global warming to our planet. The answer from the scientific community has been an overwhelming, “yes, it is caused by human activity.” Now we can take action to reverse the trends. Right?
Wrong. Unfortunately, there is serious opposition to taking action. Energy companies spend millions funding junk science front groups who will try to keep an element of doubt about global warming in the minds of voters. Conservatives have largely been in the pockets of big oil, defending the status quo of dirty energy at every turn. Rather than fighting regulation and supporting big oil’s interests, the business community should be supporting clean energy, and the new jobs and vibrant economy that will come with this vital and emerging field. It is destined to be the next big economic bubble—certainly something conservatives should be able to get behind.
Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater -– something more consequential than party or political preference.
We will move forward together, or not at all -– for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.
At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but the light to the world.
Democracy requires the free flowing information, critical thinking skills, and broad participation. When monopoly powers of any kind interfere with these principles, democracy suffers. Today, more than ever before, our democracy (or “Democratic Republican,” if you like) is under assault by monopoly powers–powers that control the media, political representatives, and write the rules for our society. The interests of the powerful would never be accepted by the electorate, and using force wouldn’t work today (and would interfere with kind of market “freedom” that the power want to uphold). So the only way to get the electorate to go along with the interests of the powerful is to use propaganda. People’s consent must be engineered, manufactured.