Friday, October 28, 2011

What Is the Occupy Wall Street Movement About?

                                      Picture via         
            Yesterday, I read a news article on an Arkansas NBC affiliates website announcing that the Whirlpool Corporation is closing a plant in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which employs one thousand people.  As I read over this article, as I have so many similar articles from around the country in recent years, I was taken aback by the thought of what this means in terms of people’s lives.  I looked around my living room at my wife and kids and realized that I am just one person.  I am one person who provides for three additional people; a family.  In Fort Smith, a city of approximately 85,000 people, a thousand people plus their family members being affected by such a closure is a pretty big deal.  It is especially gut wrenching to learn that part of the production (jobs) cut at the Fort Smith plant will be picked up by a plant in Mexico.

            It reminds me of comments made Michael Moore made recently during his appearance on Piers Morgan’s show on CNN.  Michael Moore said that the outsourcing of jobs should be made illegal.  If we cannot make the outsourcing of jobs illegal, then our government ought to, at a minimum, eliminate any tax breaks, subsidies, or any other benefit extended to any corporation that outsources even one U.S. job.  These corporations should be punished for the damage they do to families whose livelihood has been outsourced.  These are families who have paid the taxes that have funded the roads the corporation’s products are shipped upon and who provided the labor that built the corporation from the ground up.  

            Michael Moore said in his interview that the downfall of his hometown of Flint, Michigan, came when General Motors decided to outsource jobs to maximize profits.  At that time says Moore, General Motors was making $4 billion a year in profits but outsourced jobs in order to make $5 billion.  Moore goes on to ask, “What was wrong with $4 billion?”  The answer to most of us would be nothing.  But to greedy corporate America, it doesn’t matter if the economic vitality of a city is destroyed so long as the corporation makes another billion dollars. 

That is what the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about.  It is about people who are fed up with their lives being upended and their futures diminished in the name of ever increasing corporate greed.  Theirs is anger at Wall Street bankers and corporations such as General Motors who get so greedy that when their schemes start to implode they cry out for the American taxpayer to bail them out.  The corporation, unlike the American taxpayer, can expect to get bailed out of such debacles without having to file bankruptcy.

            Do these corporations thank the American taxpayer for their bailouts?  No, instead they are like the unforgiving servant from the Bible parable who was forgiven his debts after begging forgiveness from his master only to turn and imprison his own debtor who begged him for forgiveness of his own debts.  If corporate America were smart it would collectively take a step back and realize that its greed, which has created such resentment worldwide, is now creating resentment at home.  That resentment and the movement it has spawned is likely to cause change that will shake the very foundation of the economic system which gave rise to corporate America.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Non-Violence Brings Social Change

              Now that the Occupy Wall Street movement has seen violence at the hands of police in Oakland and threats of violence or orders to disperse by police in Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago, and an order to relocate to a remote parking lot in Little Rock, it is more important than ever to dedicate oneself to remaining peaceful.   It is through peaceful protest that Gandhi liberated his people.  It is through peaceful protest and the constant reminder to be non-violent that Martin Luther King Jr. brought about great social change in a relatively short amount of time.

  It is important to note that both movements met violence at the hands of the authorities and for the most part offered no resistance.   When it was the authorities who were perpetrators of violence and not the protestors, the eyes of the world saw the wrongs being done by the respective governments against unarmed peaceful citizens and the pressure to change mounted.  Had either movement responded to violence with more violence, they would likely have been brutally crushed and seen as a mob of deviants with no sense of direction or purpose other than mayhem.

It is my assertion that on every occasion in which the authorities offer to do violence, they have offered to hand you a victory.  It is up to you to accept that victory by remaining non-violent or to surrender that victory by returning violence to them.  The victory that is to be had is in showing the world which camp is out of control.  Do not help them to marginalize your voice by allowing them to show you as the one who is out of control.  Never forget that the non-violent movements led by both Gandhi and MLK were met with fierce violence and were victorious because they did not return violence.  Their non-violence proved to the world that the authorities were the ones who were out of control, violent, and in need of a change in direction.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Pathway

Little need is there for shame.

We are but what we were born to be.

Heading forward into the great abyss of time, we travel onward. 

For where we come from, we shall never return.

Days of innocence once gone are never to be had again.

Ours is a journey in which we can only press forward; each of us following our own paths.

Paths that when traveled seem natural, as if handed down to us from above.

Inspiring is the one who presses forward in life, staying true to them self, on the pathway for which they are intended, without shame or regret.

                                                                                    -The Progressive Cop

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Military Industrial Complex And It's Role In Our Budget Crisis

            Following the Occupy Wall Street protest, one can easily sense the animosity felt by common folks for the big banks that got us into our current economic crisis.  While I support the Occupy Wall Street movement, I urge all Americans to realize that it’s not just the banks who throw around their corporate weight at the expense of the poor and middle class.  The defense industry too is milking our nation of all of its resources.
            According to statistics from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2010, the United States defense expenditures made up approximately 42% of global military spending whereas the second highest military spender, China, made up a little over 7%.  Rounding out the top five spenders we have our allies the United Kingdom and France at numbers three and four with about 3.5% of global military spending each and Russia in fifth with approximately 3.5%.  The obvious question we have to ask is who are we afraid of?  Are we concerned that the rest of the world is going to try and gang up on us at once? More importantly, are we giving them a reason to?
            Amazingly, when the US Congress came to the conclusion that spending cuts were needed, the Republicans seem to be interested only in cutting “entitlements” which I prefer to call benefits, for veterans, the poor, the elderly, and so on.  On the other hand, they refused to cut entitlements to defense contractors or close corporate tax loopholes.  Unnecessary overseas military bases remained open while teachers in America face the threat of layoffs, students amass ever higher student loan debt and many Americans still do not have health insurance or are underinsured.  Despite all of this the Republican’s still refused to raise income tax levels on the richest Americans to Clinton era levels.  A Clinton era, need I remind you, that produced a growing economy and a federal budget surplus.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Can Sanctions Bring About Equality Inside The US?

            In modern times it seems, the answer the west has for human rights abuses around the world is to apply economic sanctions against the guilty country.  Time and time again, I hear about how China has a poor human rights record or how Iran is very repressive, or how Cuba has political prisoners and how each should face sanctions or trade embargos.  While each of these examples are true to some degree and should not be tolerated, so too we should not tolerate further human rights violations by US States; especially those with histories of human rights violations. 
            From the very foundation of the United States, we have grappled with human rights issues.  We wrote into our constitution a 3/5 compromise, that basically condoned the practice of African slavery in the states that have since most consistently violated human rights or impeded equality.  Some of these states have improved their human rights records and should be rewarded but others have not.  The southern states aren’t the only guilty parties.  There are others such as Arizona who recently tried to usurp federal immigration enforcement powers and enacted their own law, which not only went after illegal immigrants but also encouraged law enforcement to question the immigration status of Hispanics in general. 
            Among southern states with poor human rights records, Alabama recently passed an even more repressive anti-immigrant law that has forced many Hispanics, including US citizens, to leave the state rather than face unending questions about their legal status.  In fact, it seems states such as Alabama are repeatedly on the wrong side of human rights issues whether they be in the form of maintaining a slave based economy to enacting Jim Crow laws and violently resisting integration in the past to more recently pressuring Hispanics to leave and denying homosexuals marriage equality.
            If we are to support economic sanctions against foreign governments because we believe they work, then why not try them here as a means to bring about positive social change in our own country?  History shows that fear of boycotts by individual civil rights groups can bring about change in the resistant states.  Look at how South Carolina removed the Confederate battle flag from atop their state capital and Georgia removed it from their state flag in response to the threat of boycotts from civil rights groups such as the NAACP.  Withholding money seems to get people’s attention and in the name of human rights and equality, we need to get the attention of some of our states.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Our Destiny

Wondering about our future... If the center of the Milky Way Galaxy is a supermassive black hole and all of the stars, including our Sun, are revolving around this black hole, aren't we all like molecules of water waiting to get sucked down the bathtub drain?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Immigration And America's Future

            The fact that America’s population is aging is no secret.  Baby boomers are growing older and their reproduction rates haven’t kept pace with those of their parents.  According to U.S. Census data, the average median age of Americans grew from 32 years in 1990 to 35 years in 2000 and it continues to grow.

            Programs such as Social Security, which many of us will depend on in our golden years, are dependent upon a younger generation of workers.  With an aging population, the burden on the worker generation, our kids, is going to grow heavier.  The fact is that we either need our own birth rates to increase and keep pace with the previous generation or we need to open our doors to immigrants.  Otherwise sustaining a decent standard of living for our elderly, orphaned children and widows will be impossible

            Enter the influx of Hispanic immigrants from south of the border.  The disparity between rich and poor is even greater south of the border than it is here in the US.  Millions of these immigrants found themselves struggling to provide basic services such as food, shelter, and education, to their families.  Many of these folks see the greater opportunities that exist in the US and have made the decision that any loving parent and most of our ancestors made; to come to America at any cost.  Many, who choose to immigrate legally, find themselves waiting years in order to successfully obtain a visa to immigrate to the US.  Many of those who wait to do it legally never find success leaving only the option of illegal immigration.  Regardless of their immigration status, almost all of them are coming here to provide a better life for their children than they can obtain in their native countries.  If you ask me, to sacrifice all you have known, the people, the places, sights, and familiar culture, for the sake of your family is the most noble of deeds and speaks volumes to the character of these immigrants.

             Now, back to the question of how we solve our problems of providing for our aging population.  The answer seems obvious to me and is right in front of us.  We don’t have to ask for a younger generation to come and help out, they’re coming on their own.  We have an abundance of willing immigrants who want nothing more than to come to America and work.  Many are risking their lives getting here, knowing they will be doing work that few Americans want to do.  In fact, immigrants from south of the border have become such a integral part of the American economy that after Alabama recently passed repressive anti-immigrant legislation, Alabama farmers discovered they have no longer a labor force to help them harvest their crops.

            At a time when Americans who are above the median age of 35 should be welcoming these immigrants as saviors, we instead pass laws such as Alabama’s which intend to punish any American who provides assistance to illegal immigrants while making life hell on the immigrants themselves.  Assistance in the case of the Alabama law doesn’t mean smuggling illegal’s across the border in your trunk.  It involves such benign forms of assistance as giving an illegal a ride to work, or giving their kids a piece of candy on Halloween. 

            So, why aren’t Americans recognizing the need to allow these immigrants to come here?  I suspect it is good old xenophobia that is the root cause of our blindness to common sense.  Laws such as Alabama’s seem to be overwhelmingly popular in states such as Alabama, which have had a history of issues dealing with human equality.

            America is still the wealthiest country in human history yet many of the very people on the right who advocate making life hard on immigrants proclaim to be Christian.  With this abundant wealth of which we have all been blessed, they chose to be stingy, even to the detriment of their own futures and those of their progeny.  It is time that America rids itself of prejudice and xenophobia and recognizes a mutually beneficial relationship when ones such as this appear.  Open the path to citizenship to those who would risk their life wanting to become Americans and deport the bigoted rednecks who claim to be American instead trample upon the dreams of freedom and equality that define America!   

Monday, October 3, 2011

It’s refreshing to see that we have reached an age where many nations have extended equal rights, including marriage rights, to all of their citizens.  In the United States, a nation that purports to espouse the principles of equality for all, we are just now getting around to seriously considering equal rights as it pertains to marriage for same sex couples.

I came across this poster on and couldn’t resist sharing it.  It illustrates just how ridiculous the arguments of the right are when it comes to debating whether we should grant equal rights to all Americans.  

Entertaining the arguments against equality for all Americans is simply absurd.  The Defense of Marriage Act must be repealed and the Federal Government must take steps to ensure the rights of all Americans to liberty and the pursuit of happiness!