ENVIRONMENT | PRIORITIES | COMMENTARY
In news you simply couldn’t make up, The makers of ‘Candy Crush Saga’ King, have trademarked the word ‘Candy’ in order to prevent other app makers from using it in the titles of their games.
The trademark was authorized by the European Union for the word “Candy.” British game maker King is still awaiting word on a similar trademark request in the U.S. Candy Crush is a wildly-popular and addictive puzzle-game app, featuring little colored candies.
King is now sending cease and desist orders to other app makers that have that word in their titles. For example, All Candy Casino Slots was forced to change to All Sweets Casino Slots.
Not to be outdone, Apple Computers has trademarked the letter “i”! The letter ‘i’ is no longer able to be used in relationship to any kind of computer or digital technology. The harshest fines possible will be assessed.
*ntel (*NTC), currently in compliance with the Apple lawsuit, is filing a countersuit indicated this would prevent anyone from being able to identify or speak the name of their company aloud. Dell Computers has joined in the suit to protect their ‘Al*enware’ line of computers from becoming ‘Alenware’ (but sensing which way the wind is blowing, Alenware will also call up Al*enware in most common search engines, try it!)
Monsanto has decided the words ‘seeds’ and ‘corn’ should belong exclusively to them (corresponding to their motto “no food grown we don’t own”) and as such Kelloggs is now forced to call their signature product “Kernel Mash Flakes”. Other yellow or white kernel-related products are scrambling to rename their products as quickly as possible, with such catchy names as FRUCTOOS, replacing longer and now legally incompatible name of “high fructose (redacted) syrup.”
Comcast has locked down the words ‘cable’ and ‘digital distribution’ beating out Netflix. In their race to the patent office in downtown Washington, DC, 12 bike messengers, 4 pedestrians and 2 police officers were run over or injured. Netflix response was to consider themselves beaten and sell their service over Comcast set boxes, neutering the Roku and rendering its technology obsolete in the process. Roku’s representatives are unavailable for comment, something about a cease and desist order from Apple and their AppleTV product over the words ‘d*gital med*a rece*ver’.
And to prepare for their future against impending lawsuits, the Koch Brothers along with their Big Oil oligarchy have trademarked the term ‘climate change’ and released cease and desist orders against all scientists and major media outlets except Fox News who released no information on climate change in 2013 and isn’t expected to do so in the near future.
#humor #news #wtf
Let’s start the year off with one of my favorite ideas. Good mental health and the idea of cognitive dissonance. I am a believer that one of the reasons our nation seems to have slipped its gears is the overwhelming number of dissonant events they are forced to accept just to make it through the day. With our news media in the tentacles of the great vampire squid of corporate power it becomes harder to put the pieces together and know what makes sense anymore.
So that we are all on the same page, we should start off with a more official point of view…
Social psychologists refer to cognitive dissonance as the presence of incongruent relations among cognitions (thought and understanding) that frequently results in excessive mental stress and discomfort. Ultimately, individuals who hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas and/or values frequently experience cognitive dissonance. This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction.
For example, an individual is likely to experience dissonance if he or she is addicted to smoking cigarettes and continues to smoke despite believing it is unhealthy.
Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals largely become psychologically distressed. His basic hypotheses are listed below:
- “The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance”
- “When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance.”
With this lovely explanation in mind, (thank you, Wikipedia) I am going to engage in a bit of cognitive dissonance discovery after reviewing the last few months of what passes for news. If you find yourself in agreement, you too may be experiencing a tiny bit of STRESS due to your inability to process the incongruencies of our times…
You have a right to an education…as long as you aren’t a six year old hugging another classmate and being accused of sexual harassment or unless you chew a pastry into the shape of a gun, or unless you are a Black kid who might be hungry, or distracted, or harassed by gangs or any number of other reasons you have difficulties in school; or unless the School-to-Prison pipeline is clogged and they need fresh bodies to keep those corporate prisons full…
And while we are on the topic of education, you have the right to an education…as long as we don’t need stealth bombers or tanks or any other kind of infrastructure necessary for bombing brown people all over the world. In which case, screw your education, there are people that need to be “freed” somewhere else.
You have the right to buy and smoke up to an ounce of marijuana…in Colorado. Everywhere else in the nation, you can expect to spend ten to twenty-five years in prison (if you haven’t already) for carrying that same ounce of that sweet cannabis sativa. If you’re brown expect a longer sentence, if you’re not, expect that “Affluenza” ensures you find your way into a rehab facility for…help.
You have the right to privacy…as long as you don’t expect it from your government’s intelligence agencies, your employer, the police or your spouse. The development of social media and the strange vanity of an insecure nation allows people to put everything they know, everything they do, and everything they are on public display for people who would happily exploit that information for profit. Privacy is dead, anyway.
You have the right to media representation, the ability to see yourself reflected in your local media…unless you are some shade of brown. Then you can expect that newscasters will be white men, experts on said news about brown people will be white men, consultants on the behavior of brown people will be white men, and even when the issue is about women, let’s say female reproduction for instance, the person they will be interview will be a, you guessed it, a white man. The only time you can expect to see a brown face is if it’s being married to a white one (or selling Cheerios, fighting monsters on science-fiction movies, or rejecting each other in night time dramas for their white co-workers…)
You have the right to eat food…as long as you don’t expect to know how it was raised, where it was genetically modified, or what artificial chemicals are pumped into the vat its processed in. Megacorporations like Monsanto (a chemical company, not a food company) don’t want to label their products because you might want to hold them accountable when your grandchild has three eyes attributed to genetically modified food. Don’t expect to eat healthy anymore. Frankenfoods are becoming more inevitable than ever.
You have the right of free speech…unless you are protesting the rapine corporate practices which bankrupted you, or if you happen to be a whistleblower reporting on government malfeasance. Or you say the wrong thing to a cop and he shoots you and gets a three week paid vacation before going back to work.
You have the right to remain silent…unless the cops can convince you to confess by any means necessary BEFORE they read you your Miranda or can plea bargain you into cell avoiding a trial altogether or they pay a backed up police lab to mix up your DNA and some other convicts so you can do a cool stretch in prison for a crime you didn’t commit.
You have the right to clean water…unless you live downstream from a chemical plant which spills its effluvia into your water supply causing sickness, mutation and death, or live next to a fracking facility which will poison your water supply in its quest for clean natural gas, or unless your a performance artist who really prefers your water to catch on fire.
You have the right to an attorney…not saying you can actually afford one. Some states are even considering getting rid of public defenders altogether. Not that having one will matter if your judge is being paid by prison corporations to put you behind bars to fulfill a quota and a receive a tidy payoff.
You have the right to a fair and impartial government…unless you happen to notice that half of your government is comprised of millionaires who are voting primarily for their corporate interests instead of your public safety or when you notice you work 290 days a year and are called lazy by said officials who work a mere 90 days and make $175,000 a year plus Cadillac benefits packages.
You have the right to own a house…unless you give up the right when your banking institution runs a scheme which collapses the banking industry and disrupts the world’s communal economy while forcing your property values to drop to zero, putting your house underwater and which further destabilizes the economy and puts you and everyone you know out of work and ultimately out of your home which the bank will then sell for an excellent profit to a corporate real estate agency. The circle of corporate life…guess which end you are on.
You have the right to a fair justice system…unless you are a banker who destabilizes an economy with commodities fraud, or insider trading with government officials or launders money with criminal cartels, or you get the idea. No bankers will ever be penalized as long as they can pay a fine with three weeks of earnings to the justice department. Only the protesters who stand out in front of said banks will ever be sent to jail.
You have the right to expect that when confronted by the police and unarmed you will be taken into custody…unless you happen to be handcuffed, face down, surrounded by police and get shot in the back, by accident, of course, or unless you happen to be a child walking through a field and get shot by an gun expert who couldn’t tell the difference between a real gun and a toy or unless you happen to be an unarmed but mentally disturbed man who after running from the police gets shot at and is subsequently charged with assault after the police’s bullets (from their guns) hit two innocent bystanders.
If you are driving down the road, you have the right to expect that if the police stop you, they will speak to you before they start shooting…unless there is a manhunt going on and extreme measures are necessary, as in the case of the Los Angeles police who shot up three vehicles (with people not related to the case in any way) in their hunt for a fellow officer, REPUTEDLY on a rampage. While no one, besides the rampaging officer who was set on fire and burned alive, was hurt, I am certain none of the people who were shot at for driving a vehicle that resembled the dead officer’s were pleased to be a police target without so much as a warning before shooting at them.
You have the right to discriminate…wait you don’t have that right… unless you are a highly religious zealot who believes God doesn’t want you to make cakes for homosexual couples and would rather you burn your business to the ground rather than sell a wedding cake to gay people. We will ignore all the cakes you may sell to gay party planners, corporate event, private parties and to anyone who happens to NOT announce they are gay when they come to your store. Perhaps when this case makes it to the Supreme Court, you can make a case for a “religious right” to discriminate based on their constitutional interpretation.
Can hating minorities as a “religious right” be too far behind?
Now ask yourself, when you walk out the door on any given day, how many of these do you have to put out of your mind before you can make it to your job only to engage in a different set of dissonances necessary to make it through your work environment…
Next on our list of social-psychological dysfunctions: Cultural Schizophrenia!
PS. Normally, I tag and link all the articles these are referenced from, but I decided to let you, the reader have the fun of figuring out where and how these things affect your life, without any special news bias from me. If you can find other samples of cognitive dissonance which affect your life in particular, share them in the comments. Keep it clean, folks.
A Parting Shot
Legislative Dissonance: The Affluenza Defense: Judge Rules Rich Kid’s Rich Kid-ness Makes Him Not Liable for Deadly Drunk Driving Accident
Sara Jessimy Kruzan (born January 8, 1978) is an American victim and survivor of human trafficking. In 1995, at the age of 17, she was convicted of the first-degree murder of her alleged pimp, George Gilbert Howard. She was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. As a result of her status as a convicted juvenile sentenced to life without parole, Kruzan has received national attention from individuals and judicial reform groups, who advocate for a new trial. On January 2, 2011, as a result of the media attention, Kruzan was granted clemency by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who commuted her sentence to 25 years with the possibility of parole; she remained incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla. In January 2013, her sentence was reduced to second-degree manslaughter and 15 + 4 years, effectively time served, making her eligible for a parole hearing. She was found suitable for parole on June 12, 2013, and the decision was forwarded to Governor Jerry Brown. On October 25, 2013, Brown took no action on the parole board decision, thereby effectively confirming it, allowing the parole board to proceed with the parole of Kruzan. On October 31, 2013, she was paroled from Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla after serving 19 years.
COMMENTARY | NATIONAL PRIORITIES | THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM.
This picture and quote is from Sploid Magazine:
“We’re not preparing to fight the aliens. This isn’t a scene from Independence Day 2. It’s just a throwback photo of 25—yes, twenty five—Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk black stealth fighter jets celebrating its 25th anniversary back in 2006. What a beautifully intimidating celebration of power it was.
According to The Aviationist, the jets flew over Heritage Park at Holloman Air Force Base. Code One Magazine recently put up the photo taken by Denny Lombard for Lockheed Martin on its Facebook page.”
Then I wondered…
How much this display of airpower cost? Exactly what does a stealth bomber go for these days? So I turned to everyone’s favorite information resource, Wikipedia. Wikipedia reveals the cost of the Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk to be a cool $112 million dollars average cost, not including weapons payload or fuel costs…
|Role||Stealth attack aircraft|
|National origin||United States|
|First flight||18 June 1981|
|Retired||22 April 2008|
|Primary user||United States Air Force|
|Number built||64 (5 YF-117As, 59 F-117As)|
|Unit cost||US$42.6 million (flyaway cost)
US$111.2 million (average cost)
|Developed from||Lockheed Have Blue|
 Aronstein and Piccirillo 1997, p. 267.
From the same Wikipedia article we see this nice picture of some OTHER F-117A Nighthawks on the ground in 1983 give or take…
What you are seeing is an average of $27 billion dollars flying overhead. Another $27 billion or so sitting on the ground, and let’s just overlook research and development costs (I could probably find it, but it would certainly be VERY expensive and not necessary for you to get my point.)
Gets your patriotism fires burning, doesn’t it?
Now let’s merge this with another news article and see if your patriotism is still stoked…
From the Atlantic Magazine 2014 – Here’s Exactly How Much the Government Would Have to Spend to Make Public College Tuition-Free:
“A mere $62.6 billion dollars!
According to new Department of Education data, that’s how much tuition public colleges collected from undergraduates in 2012 across the entire United States. And I’m not being facetious with the word mere, either. The New America Foundation says that the federal government spent a whole $69 billion in 2013 on its hodgepodge of financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants for low-income students, tax breaks, work study funding. And that doesn’t even include loans.
If we were we scrapping our current system and starting from scratch, Washington could make public college tuition free with the money it sets aside its scattershot attempts to make college affordable today.”
Update—Friday Jan. 3, 3:45 PM: Just to clarify, because some readers have asked, making tuition free in 2012 would have required $62.6 billion on top of what state and local governments already spend subsidizing public colleges, as well as some of the federal spending that doesn’t go towards financial aid. Again, you can find a detailed breakdown of how our colleges are funded in theDepartment of Education’s data.
For anybody interested in reading more about the idea of making public college tuition free, and the vast array of economic considerations that would entail, here’s a lengthy piece I wrote last year.
Update—Friday Jan. 3, 4:31 PM: One more update to answer another good question I’ve received. Technically, you could say the additional cost of making college tuition free would be even cheaper than $62.6 billion. How come? Because most Pell Grant money is already spent at public colleges. In 2011 – 2012, state school students received $21.8 billion in grants. So, if you subtract that from the total needed to completely eliminate tuition, it the sum would be closer to $40 billion. (Apologies for not teasing that point out earlier. I’d noted it in a previous article and didn’t think to repeat it.)
So what have we learned?
For the cost of 50 stealth bombers, we could send every American who wanted it to college for no expense to the student! Imagine what we could do with the rest of the military industrial complex’s expense budget…Remember, these bombers aren’t the only thing the military produces.
Still feeling patriotic or just kind of dirty…
The Powell Memo (also known as the Powell Manifesto)
The Powell Memo was first published August 23, 1971
In 1971, Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell’s nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Powell Memo did not become available to the public until long after his confirmation to the Court. It was leaked to Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell “might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice…in behalf of business interests.”
Though Powell’s memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced or inspired the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration’s “hands-off business” philosophy.
Most notable about these institutions was their focus on education, shifting values, and movement-building — a focus we share, though often with sharply contrasting goals.* (See our endnote for more on this.)
So did Powell’s political views influence his judicial decisions? The evidence is mixed. Powell did embrace expansion of corporate privilege and wrote the majority opinion in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, a 1978 decision that effectively invented a First Amendment “right” for corporations to influence ballot questions. On social issues, he was a moderate, whose votes often surprised his backers.
Confidential Memorandum: Attack of American Free Enterprise System
DATE: August 23, 1971
TO: Mr. Eugene B. Sydnor, Jr., Chairman, Education Committee, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
FROM: Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
This memorandum is submitted at your request as a basis for the discussion on August 24 with Mr. Booth (executive vice president) and others at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The purpose is to identify the problem, and suggest possible avenues of action for further consideration.
Dimensions of the Attack
No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack. This varies in scope, intensity, in the techniques employed, and in the level of visibility.
There always have been some who opposed the American system, and preferred socialism or some form of statism (communism or fascism). Also, there always have been critics of the system, whose criticism has been wholesome and constructive so long as the objective was to improve rather than to subvert or destroy.
But what now concerns us is quite new in the history of America. We are not dealing with sporadic or isolated attacks from a relatively few extremists or even from the minority socialist cadre. Rather, the assault on the enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued. It is gaining momentum and converts.
Sources of the Attack
The sources are varied and diffused. They include, not unexpectedly, the Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries who would destroy the entire system, both political and economic. These extremists of the left are far more numerous, better financed, and increasingly are more welcomed and encouraged by other elements of society, than ever before in our history. But they remain a small minority, and are not yet the principal cause for concern.
The most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism come from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians. In most of these groups the movement against the system is participated in only by minorities. Yet, these often are the most articulate, the most vocal, the most prolific in their writing and speaking.
Moreover, much of the media-for varying motives and in varying degrees-either voluntarily accords unique publicity to these “attackers,” or at least allows them to exploit the media for their purposes. This is especially true of television, which now plays such a predominant role in shaping the thinking, attitudes and emotions of our people.
One of the bewildering paradoxes of our time is the extent to which the enterprise system tolerates, if not participates in, its own destruction.
The campuses from which much of the criticism emanates are supported by (i) tax funds generated largely from American business, and (ii) contributions from capital funds controlled or generated by American business. The boards of trustees of our universities overwhelmingly are composed of men and women who are leaders in the system.
Most of the media, including the national TV systems, are owned and theoretically controlled by corporations which depend upon profits, and the enterprise system to survive.
Tone of the Attack
This memorandum is not the place to document in detail the tone, character, or intensity of the attack. The following quotations will suffice to give one a general idea:
William Kunstler, warmly welcomed on campuses and listed in a recent student poll as the “American lawyer most admired,” incites audiences as follows:
“You must learn to fight in the streets, to revolt, to shoot guns. We will learn to do all of the things that property owners fear.”2 The New Leftists who heed Kunstler’s advice increasingly are beginning to act — not just against military recruiting offices and manufacturers of munitions, but against a variety of businesses: “Since February, 1970, branches (of Bank of America) have been attacked 39 times, 22 times with explosive devices and 17 times with fire bombs or by arsonists.”3 Although New Leftist spokesmen are succeeding in radicalizing thousands of the young, the greater cause for concern is the hostility of respectable liberals and social reformers. It is the sum total of their views and influence which could indeed fatally weaken or destroy the system.
A chilling description of what is being taught on many of our campuses was written by Stewart Alsop:
“Yale, like every other major college, is graduating scores of bright young men who are practitioners of ‘the politics of despair.’ These young men despise the American political and economic system . . . (their) minds seem to be wholly closed. They live, not by rational discussion, but by mindless slogans.”4 A recent poll of students on 12 representative campuses reported that: “Almost half the students favored socialization of basic U.S. industries.”5
A visiting professor from England at Rockford College gave a series of lectures entitled “The Ideological War Against Western Society,” in which he documents the extent to which members of the intellectual community are waging ideological warfare against the enterprise system and the values of western society. In a foreword to these lectures, famed Dr. Milton Friedman of Chicago warned: “It (is) crystal clear that the foundations of our free society are under wide-ranging and powerful attack — not by Communist or any other conspiracy but by misguided individuals parroting one another and unwittingly serving ends they would never intentionally promote.”6
Perhaps the single most effective antagonist of American business is Ralph Nader, who — thanks largely to the media — has become a legend in his own time and an idol of millions of Americans. A recent article in Fortune speaks of Nader as follows:
“The passion that rules in him — and he is a passionate man — is aimed at smashing utterly the target of his hatred, which is corporate power. He thinks, and says quite bluntly, that a great many corporate executives belong in prison — for defrauding the consumer with shoddy merchandise, poisoning the food supply with chemical additives, and willfully manufacturing unsafe products that will maim or kill the buyer. He emphasizes that he is not talking just about ‘fly-by-night hucksters’ but the top management of blue chip business.”7
A frontal assault was made on our government, our system of justice, and the free enterprise system by Yale Professor Charles Reich in his widely publicized book: “The Greening of America,” published last winter.
The foregoing references illustrate the broad, shotgun attack on the system itself. There are countless examples of rifle shots which undermine confidence and confuse the public. Favorite current targets are proposals for tax incentives through changes in depreciation rates and investment credits. These are usually described in the media as “tax breaks,” “loop holes” or “tax benefits” for the benefit of business. As viewed by a columnist in the Post, such tax measures would benefit “only the rich, the owners of big companies.”8
It is dismaying that many politicians make the same argument that tax measures of this kind benefit only “business,” without benefit to “the poor.” The fact that this is either political demagoguery or economic illiteracy is of slight comfort. This setting of the “rich” against the “poor,” of business against the people, is the cheapest and most dangerous kind of politics.
The Apathy and Default of Business
What has been the response of business to this massive assault upon its fundamental economics, upon its philosophy, upon its right to continue to manage its own affairs, and indeed upon its integrity?
The painfully sad truth is that business, including the boards of directors’ and the top executives of corporations great and small and business organizations at all levels, often have responded — if at all — by appeasement, ineptitude and ignoring the problem. There are, of course, many exceptions to this sweeping generalization. But the net effect of such response as has been made is scarcely visible.
In all fairness, it must be recognized that businessmen have not been trained or equipped to conduct guerrilla warfare with those who propagandize against the system, seeking insidiously and constantly to sabotage it. The traditional role of business executives has been to manage, to produce, to sell, to create jobs, to make profits, to improve the standard of living, to be community leaders, to serve on charitable and educational boards, and generally to be good citizens. They have performed these tasks very well indeed.
But they have shown little stomach for hard-nose contest with their critics, and little skill in effective intellectual and philosophical debate.
A column recently carried by the Wall Street Journal was entitled: “Memo to GM: Why Not Fight Back?”9 Although addressed to GM by name, the article was a warning to all American business. Columnist St. John said:
“General Motors, like American business in general, is ‘plainly in trouble’ because intellectual bromides have been substituted for a sound intellectual exposition of its point of view.” Mr. St. John then commented on the tendency of business leaders to compromise with and appease critics. He cited the concessions which Nader wins from management, and spoke of “the fallacious view many businessmen take toward their critics.” He drew a parallel to the mistaken tactics of many college administrators: “College administrators learned too late that such appeasement serves to destroy free speech, academic freedom and genuine scholarship. One campus radical demand was conceded by university heads only to be followed by a fresh crop which soon escalated to what amounted to a demand for outright surrender.”
One need not agree entirely with Mr. St. John’s analysis. But most observers of the American scene will agree that the essence of his message is sound. American business “plainly in trouble”; the response to the wide range of critics has been ineffective, and has included appeasement; the time has come — indeed, it is long overdue — for the wisdom, ingenuity and resources of American business to be marshalled against those who would destroy it.
Responsibility of Business Executives
What specifically should be done? The first essential — a prerequisite to any effective action — is for businessmen to confront this problem as a primary responsibility of corporate management.
The overriding first need is for businessmen to recognize that the ultimate issue may be survival — survival of what we call the free enterprise system, and all that this means for the strength and prosperity of America and the freedom of our people.
The day is long past when the chief executive officer of a major corporation discharges his responsibility by maintaining a satisfactory growth of profits, with due regard to the corporation’s public and social responsibilities. If our system is to survive, top management must be equally concerned with protecting and preserving the system itself. This involves far more than an increased emphasis on “public relations” or “governmental affairs” — two areas in which corporations long have invested substantial sums.
A significant first step by individual corporations could well be the designation of an executive vice president (ranking with other executive VP’s) whose responsibility is to counter-on the broadest front-the attack on the enterprise system. The public relations department could be one of the foundations assigned to this executive, but his responsibilities should encompass some of the types of activities referred to subsequently in this memorandum. His budget and staff should be adequate to the task.
Possible Role of the Chamber of Commerce
But independent and uncoordinated activity by individual corporations, as important as this is, will not be sufficient. Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.
Moreover, there is the quite understandable reluctance on the part of any one corporation to get too far out in front and to make itself too visible a target.
The role of the National Chamber of Commerce is therefore vital. Other national organizations (especially those of various industrial and commercial groups) should join in the effort, but no other organizations appear to be as well situated as the Chamber. It enjoys a strategic position, with a fine reputation and a broad base of support. Also — and this is of immeasurable merit — there are hundreds of local Chambers of Commerce which can play a vital supportive role.
It hardly need be said that before embarking upon any program, the Chamber should study and analyze possible courses of action and activities, weighing risks against probable effectiveness and feasibility of each. Considerations of cost, the assurance of financial and other support from members, adequacy of staffing and similar problems will all require the most thoughtful consideration.
The assault on the enterprise system was not mounted in a few months. It has gradually evolved over the past two decades, barely perceptible in its origins and benefiting (sic) from a gradualism that provoked little awareness much less any real reaction.
Although origins, sources and causes are complex and interrelated, and obviously difficult to identify without careful qualification, there is reason to believe that the campus is the single most dynamic source. The social science faculties usually include members who are unsympathetic to the enterprise system. They may range from a Herbert Marcuse, Marxist faculty member at the University of California at San Diego, and convinced socialists, to the ambivalent liberal critic who finds more to condemn than to commend. Such faculty members need not be in a majority. They are often personally attractive and magnetic; they are stimulating teachers, and their controversy attracts student following; they are prolific writers and lecturers; they author many of the textbooks, and they exert enormous influence — far out of proportion to their numbers — on their colleagues and in the academic world.
Social science faculties (the political scientist, economist, sociologist and many of the historians) tend to be liberally oriented, even when leftists are not present. This is not a criticism per se, as the need for liberal thought is essential to a balanced viewpoint. The difficulty is that “balance” is conspicuous by its absence on many campuses, with relatively few members being of conservatives or moderate persuasion and even the relatively few often being less articulate and aggressive than their crusading colleagues.
This situation extending back many years and with the imbalance gradually worsening, has had an enormous impact on millions of young American students. In an article in Barron’s Weekly, seeking an answer to why so many young people are disaffected even to the point of being revolutionaries, it was said: “Because they were taught that way.”10 Or, as noted by columnist Stewart Alsop, writing about his alma mater: “Yale, like every other major college, is graduating scores’ of bright young men … who despise the American political and economic system.”
As these “bright young men,” from campuses across the country, seek opportunities to change a system which they have been taught to distrust — if not, indeed “despise” — they seek employment in the centers of the real power and influence in our country, namely: (i) with the news media, especially television; (ii) in government, as “staffers” and consultants at various levels; (iii) in elective politics; (iv) as lecturers and writers, and (v) on the faculties at various levels of education.
Many do enter the enterprise system — in business and the professions — and for the most part they quickly discover the fallacies of what they have been taught. But those who eschew the mainstream of the system often remain in key positions of influence where they mold public opinion and often shape governmental action. In many instances, these “intellectuals” end up in regulatory agencies or governmental departments with large authority over the business system they do not believe in.
If the foregoing analysis is approximately sound, a priority task of business — and organizations such as the Chamber — is to address the campus origin of this hostility. Few things are more sanctified in American life than academic freedom. It would be fatal to attack this as a principle. But if academic freedom is to retain the qualities of “openness,” “fairness” and “balance” — which are essential to its intellectual significance — there is a great opportunity for constructive action. The thrust of such action must be to restore the qualities just mentioned to the academic communities.
What Can Be Done About the Campus
The ultimate responsibility for intellectual integrity on the campus must remain on the administrations and faculties of our colleges and universities. But organizations such as the Chamber can assist and activate constructive change in many ways, including the following:
Staff of Scholars
The Chamber should consider establishing a staff of highly qualified scholars in the social sciences who do believe in the system. It should include several of national reputation whose authorship would be widely respected — even when disagreed with.
Staff of Speakers
There also should be a staff of speakers of the highest competency. These might include the scholars, and certainly those who speak for the Chamber would have to articulate the product of the scholars.
In addition to full-time staff personnel, the Chamber should have a Speaker’s Bureau which should include the ablest and most effective advocates from the top echelons of American business.
Evaluation of Textbooks
The staff of scholars (or preferably a panel of independent scholars) should evaluate social science textbooks, especially in economics, political science and sociology. This should be a continuing program.
The objective of such evaluation should be oriented toward restoring the balance essential to genuine academic freedom. This would include assurance of fair and factual treatment of our system of government and our enterprise system, its accomplishments, its basic relationship to individual rights and freedoms, and comparisons with the systems of socialism, fascism and communism. Most of the existing textbooks have some sort of comparisons, but many are superficial, biased and unfair.
We have seen the civil rights movement insist on re-writing many of the textbooks in our universities and schools. The labor unions likewise insist that textbooks be fair to the viewpoints of organized labor. Other interested citizens groups have not hesitated to review, analyze and criticize textbooks and teaching materials. In a democratic society, this can be a constructive process and should be regarded as an aid to genuine academic freedom and not as an intrusion upon it.
If the authors, publishers and users of textbooks know that they will be subjected — honestly, fairly and thoroughly — to review and critique by eminent scholars who believe in the American system, a return to a more rational balance can be expected.
Equal Time on the Campus
The Chamber should insist upon equal time on the college speaking circuit. The FBI publishes each year a list of speeches made on college campuses by avowed Communists. The number in 1970 exceeded 100. There were, of course, many hundreds of appearances by leftists and ultra liberals who urge the types of viewpoints indicated earlier in this memorandum. There was no corresponding representation of American business, or indeed by individuals or organizations who appeared in support of the American system of government and business.
Every campus has its formal and informal groups which invite speakers. Each law school does the same thing. Many universities and colleges officially sponsor lecture and speaking programs. We all know the inadequacy of the representation of business in the programs.
It will be said that few invitations would be extended to Chamber speakers.11 This undoubtedly would be true unless the Chamber aggressively insisted upon the right to be heard — in effect, insisted upon “equal time.” University administrators and the great majority of student groups and committees would not welcome being put in the position publicly of refusing a forum to diverse views, indeed, this is the classic excuse for allowing Communists to speak.
The two essential ingredients are (i) to have attractive, articulate and well-informed speakers; and (ii) to exert whatever degree of pressure — publicly and privately — may be necessary to assure opportunities to speak. The objective always must be to inform and enlighten, and not merely to propagandize.
Balancing of Faculties
Perhaps the most fundamental problem is the imbalance of many faculties. Correcting this is indeed a long-range and difficult project. Yet, it should be undertaken as a part of an overall program. This would mean the urging of the need for faculty balance upon university administrators and boards of trustees.
The methods to be employed require careful thought, and the obvious pitfalls must be avoided. Improper pressure would be counterproductive. But the basic concepts of balance, fairness and truth are difficult to resist, if properly presented to boards of trustees, by writing and speaking, and by appeals to alumni associations and groups.
This is a long road and not one for the fainthearted. But if pursued with integrity and conviction it could lead to a strengthening of both academic freedom on the campus and of the values which have made America the most productive of all societies.
Graduate Schools of Business
The Chamber should enjoy a particular rapport with the increasingly influential graduate schools of business. Much that has been suggested above applies to such schools.
Should not the Chamber also request specific courses in such schools dealing with the entire scope of the problem addressed by this memorandum? This is now essential training for the executives of the future.
While the first priority should be at the college level, the trends mentioned above are increasingly evidenced in the high schools. Action programs, tailored to the high schools and similar to those mentioned, should be considered. The implementation thereof could become a major program for local chambers of commerce, although the control and direction — especially the quality control — should be retained by the National Chamber.
What Can Be Done About the Public?
Reaching the campus and the secondary schools is vital for the long-term. Reaching the public generally may be more important for the shorter term. The first essential is to establish the staffs of eminent scholars, writers and speakers, who will do the thinking, the analysis, the writing and the speaking. It will also be essential to have staff personnel who are thoroughly familiar with the media, and how most effectively to communicate with the public. Among the more obvious means are the following:
The national television networks should be monitored in the same way that textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance. This applies not merely to so-called educational programs (such as “Selling of the Pentagon”), but to the daily “news analysis” which so often includes the most insidious type of criticism of the enterprise system.12 Whether this criticism results from hostility or economic ignorance, the result is the gradual erosion of confidence in “business” and free enterprise.
This monitoring, to be effective, would require constant examination of the texts of adequate samples of programs. Complaints — to the media and to the Federal Communications Commission — should be made promptly and strongly when programs are unfair or inaccurate.
Equal time should be demanded when appropriate. Effort should be made to see that the forum-type programs (the Today Show, Meet the Press, etc.) afford at least as much opportunity for supporters of the American system to participate as these programs do for those who attack it.
Radio and the press are also important, and every available means should be employed to challenge and refute unfair attacks, as well as to present the affirmative case through these media.
The Scholarly Journals
It is especially important for the Chamber’s “faculty of scholars” to publish. One of the keys to the success of the liberal and leftist faculty members has been their passion for “publication” and “lecturing.” A similar passion must exist among the Chamber’s scholars.
Incentives might be devised to induce more “publishing” by independent scholars who do believe in the system.
There should be a fairly steady flow of scholarly articles presented to a broad spectrum of magazines and periodicals — ranging from the popular magazines (Life, Look, Reader’s Digest, etc.) to the more intellectual ones (Atlantic, Harper’s, Saturday Review, New York, etc.)13 and to the various professional journals.
Books, Paperbacks and Pamphlets
The news stands — at airports, drugstores, and elsewhere — are filled with paperbacks and pamphlets advocating everything from revolution to erotic free love. One finds almost no attractive, well-written paperbacks or pamphlets on “our side.” It will be difficult to compete with an Eldridge Cleaver or even a Charles Reich for reader attention, but unless the effort is made — on a large enough scale and with appropriate imagination to assure some success — this opportunity for educating the public will be irretrievably lost.
Business pays hundreds of millions of dollars to the media for advertisements. Most of this supports specific products; much of it supports institutional image making; and some fraction of it does support the system. But the latter has been more or less tangential, and rarely part of a sustained, major effort to inform and enlighten the American people.
If American business devoted only 10% of its total annual advertising budget to this overall purpose, it would be a statesman-like expenditure.
The Neglected Political Arena
In the final analysis, the payoff — short-of revolution — is what government does. Business has been the favorite whipping-boy of many politicians for many years. But the measure of how far this has gone is perhaps best found in the anti-business views now being expressed by several leading candidates for President of the United States.
It is still Marxist doctrine that the “capitalist” countries are controlled by big business. This doctrine, consistently a part of leftist propaganda all over the world, has a wide public following among Americans.
Yet, as every business executive knows, few elements of American society today have as little influence in government as the American businessman, the corporation, or even the millions of corporate stockholders. If one doubts this, let him undertake the role of “lobbyist” for the business point of view before Congressional committees. The same situation obtains in the legislative halls of most states and major cities. One does not exaggerate to say that, in terms of political influence with respect to the course of legislation and government action, the American business executive is truly the “forgotten man.”
Current examples of the impotency of business, and of the near-contempt with which businessmen’s views are held, are the stampedes by politicians to support almost any legislation related to “consumerism” or to the “environment.”
Politicians reflect what they believe to be majority views of their constituents. It is thus evident that most politicians are making the judgment that the public has little sympathy for the businessman or his viewpoint.
The educational programs suggested above would be designed to enlighten public thinking — not so much about the businessman and his individual role as about the system which he administers, and which provides the goods, services and jobs on which our country depends.
But one should not postpone more direct political action, while awaiting the gradual change in public opinion to be effected through education and information. Business must learn the lesson, long ago learned by labor and other self-interest groups. This is the lesson that political power is necessary; that such power must be assidously (sic) cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination — without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.
As unwelcome as it may be to the Chamber, it should consider assuming a broader and more vigorous role in the political arena.
Neglected Opportunity in the Courts
American business and the enterprise system have been affected as much by the courts as by the executive and legislative branches of government. Under our constitutional system, especially with an activist-minded Supreme Court, the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic and political change.
Other organizations and groups, recognizing this, have been far more astute in exploiting judicial action than American business. Perhaps the most active exploiters of the judicial system have been groups ranging in political orientation from “liberal” to the far left.
The American Civil Liberties Union is one example. It initiates or intervenes in scores of cases each year, and it files briefs amicus curiae in the Supreme Court in a number of cases during each term of that court. Labor unions, civil rights groups and now the public interest law firms are extremely active in the judicial arena. Their success, often at business’ expense, has not been inconsequential.
This is a vast area of opportunity for the Chamber, if it is willing to undertake the role of spokesman for American business and if, in turn, business is willing to provide the funds.
As with respect to scholars and speakers, the Chamber would need a highly competent staff of lawyers. In special situations it should be authorized to engage, to appear as counsel amicus in the Supreme Court, lawyers of national standing and reputation. The greatest care should be exercised in selecting the cases in which to participate, or the suits to institute. But the opportunity merits the necessary effort.
Neglected Stockholder Power
The average member of the public thinks of “business” as an impersonal corporate entity, owned by the very rich and managed by over-paid executives. There is an almost total failure to appreciate that “business” actually embraces — in one way or another — most Americans. Those for whom business provides jobs, constitute a fairly obvious class. But the 20 million stockholders — most of whom are of modest means — are the real owners, the real entrepreneurs, the real capitalists under our system. They provide the capital which fuels the economic system which has produced the highest standard of living in all history. Yet, stockholders have been as ineffectual as business executives in promoting a genuine understanding of our system or in exercising political influence.
The question which merits the most thorough examination is how can the weight and influence of stockholders — 20 million voters — be mobilized to support (i) an educational program and (ii) a political action program.
Individual corporations are now required to make numerous reports to shareholders. Many corporations also have expensive “news” magazines which go to employees and stockholders. These opportunities to communicate can be used far more effectively as educational media.
The corporation itself must exercise restraint in undertaking political action and must, of course, comply with applicable laws. But is it not feasible — through an affiliate of the Chamber or otherwise — to establish a national organization of American stockholders and give it enough muscle to be influential?
A More Aggressive Attitude
Business interests — especially big business and their national trade organizations — have tried to maintain low profiles, especially with respect to political action.
As suggested in the Wall Street Journal article, it has been fairly characteristic of the average business executive to be tolerant — at least in public — of those who attack his corporation and the system. Very few businessmen or business organizations respond in kind. There has been a disposition to appease; to regard the opposition as willing to compromise, or as likely to fade away in due time.
Business has shunted confrontation politics. Business, quite understandably, has been repelled by the multiplicity of non-negotiable “demands” made constantly by self-interest groups of all kinds.
While neither responsible business interests, nor the United States Chamber of Commerce, would engage in the irresponsible tactics of some pressure groups, it is essential that spokesmen for the enterprise system — at all levels and at every opportunity — be far more aggressive than in the past.
There should be no hesitation to attack the Naders, the Marcuses and others who openly seek destruction of the system. There should not be the slightest hesitation to press vigorously in all political arenas for support of the enterprise system. Nor should there be reluctance to penalize politically those who oppose it.
Lessons can be learned from organized labor in this respect. The head of the AFL-CIO may not appeal to businessmen as the most endearing or public-minded of citizens. Yet, over many years the heads of national labor organizations have done what they were paid to do very effectively. They may not have been beloved, but they have been respected — where it counts the most — by politicians, on the campus, and among the media.
It is time for American business — which has demonstrated the greatest capacity in all history to produce and to influence consumer decisions — to apply their great talents vigorously to the preservation of the system itself.
The type of program described above (which includes a broadly based combination of education and political action), if undertaken long term and adequately staffed, would require far more generous financial support from American corporations than the Chamber has ever received in the past. High level management participation in Chamber affairs also would be required.
The staff of the Chamber would have to be significantly increased, with the highest quality established and maintained. Salaries would have to be at levels fully comparable to those paid key business executives and the most prestigious faculty members. Professionals of the great skill in advertising and in working with the media, speakers, lawyers and other specialists would have to be recruited.
It is possible that the organization of the Chamber itself would benefit from restructuring. For example, as suggested by union experience, the office of President of the Chamber might well be a full-time career position. To assure maximum effectiveness and continuity, the chief executive officer of the Chamber should not be changed each year. The functions now largely performed by the President could be transferred to a Chairman of the Board, annually elected by the membership. The Board, of course, would continue to exercise policy control.
Quality Control is Essential
Essential ingredients of the entire program must be responsibility and “quality control.” The publications, the articles, the speeches, the media programs, the advertising, the briefs filed in courts, and the appearances before legislative committees — all must meet the most exacting standards of accuracy and professional excellence. They must merit respect for their level of public responsibility and scholarship, whether one agrees with the viewpoints expressed or not.
Relationship to Freedom
The threat to the enterprise system is not merely a matter of economics. It also is a threat to individual freedom.
It is this great truth — now so submerged by the rhetoric of the New Left and of many liberals — that must be re-affirmed if this program is to be meaningful.
There seems to be little awareness that the only alternatives to free enterprise are varying degrees of bureaucratic regulation of individual freedom — ranging from that under moderate socialism to the iron heel of the leftist or rightist dictatorship.
We in America already have moved very far indeed toward some aspects of state socialism, as the needs and complexities of a vast urban society require types of regulation and control that were quite unnecessary in earlier times. In some areas, such regulation and control already have seriously impaired the freedom of both business and labor, and indeed of the public generally. But most of the essential freedoms remain: private ownership, private profit, labor unions, collective bargaining, consumer choice, and a market economy in which competition largely determines price, quality and variety of the goods and services provided the consumer.
In addition to the ideological attack on the system itself (discussed in this memorandum), its essentials also are threatened by inequitable taxation, and — more recently — by an inflation which has seemed uncontrollable.14 But whatever the causes of diminishing economic freedom may be, the truth is that freedom as a concept is indivisible. As the experience of the socialist and totalitarian states demonstrates, the contraction and denial of economic freedom is followed inevitably by governmental restrictions on other cherished rights. It is this message, above all others, that must be carried home to the American people.
It hardly need be said that the views expressed above are tentative and suggestive. The first step should be a thorough study. But this would be an exercise in futility unless the Board of Directors of the Chamber accepts the fundamental premise of this paper, namely, that business and the enterprise system are in deep trouble, and the hour is late.
- Variously called: the “free enterprise system,” “capitalism,” and the “profit system.” The American political system of democracy under the rule of law is also under attack, often by the same individuals and organizations who seek to undermine the enterprise system.
- Richmond News Leader, June 8, 1970. Column of William F. Buckley, Jr.
- N.Y. Times Service article, reprinted Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 17, 1971.
- Stewart Alsop, Yale and the Deadly Danger, Newsweek, May 18. 1970.
- Editorial, Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 7, 1971.
- Dr. Milton Friedman, Prof. of Economics, U. of Chicago, writing a foreword to Dr. Arthur A. Shenfield’s Rockford College lectures entitled “The Ideological War Against Western Society,” copyrighted 1970 by Rockford College.
- Fortune. May, 1971, p. 145. This Fortune analysis of the Nader influence includes a reference to Nader’s visit to a college where he was paid a lecture fee of $2,500 for “denouncing America’s big corporations in venomous language . . . bringing (rousing and spontaneous) bursts of applause” when he was asked when he planned to run for President.
- The Washington Post, Column of William Raspberry, June 28, 1971.
- Jeffrey St. John, The Wall Street Journal, May 21, 1971.
- Barron’s National Business and Financial Weekly, “The Total Break with America, The Fifth Annual Conference of Socialist Scholars,” Sept. 15, 1969.
- On many campuses freedom of speech has been denied to all who express moderate or conservative viewpoints.
- It has been estimated that the evening half-hour news programs of the networks reach daily some 50,000,000 Americans.
- One illustration of the type of article which should not go unanswered appeared in the popular “The New York” of July 19, 1971. This was entitled “A Populist Manifesto” by ultra liberal Jack Newfield — who argued that “the root need in our country is ‘to redistribute wealth’.”
- The recent “freeze” of prices and wages may well be justified by the current inflationary crisis. But if imposed as a permanent measure the enterprise system will have sustained a near fatal blow.
*One of our great frustrations is that foundations and funders who prefer a democratic republic to corporate domination have failed to learn from the success of these corporate institutions. They decline to invest in long-term education and culture-shifting that we and a small number of allied organizations work to achieve. Instead, they overwhelmingly focus on damage control and short-term goals. This approach stands no chance of yielding the systemic change needed to reverse the trend of growing corporate dominance.
Patient nurturing of movement-building work remains the exception to the rule among foundations that purport to strengthen democracy and citizen engagement. The growing movement to revoke corporate personhood is supported almost entirely from contributions by individual (real) people like you. Please consider supporting the work of groups like Move to Amend, Free Speech for People and Reclaim Democracy! that devote themselves to this essential movement-building work, rather than short-term projects and results demanded by most foundations.
- Washington and Lee University has created this archive (pdf) of significant follow-up communications to the Powell Memo.
- On the occasion of the memo’s 40th anniversary, Bill Moyers’ website posted useful background and commentary.
ReclaimDemocracy.org focuses on long-term movement-building and systemic change, striving to shift energy and funding from reactive work against individual harms caused by corporations to proactive efforts that seek to revoke corporate power systemically. Our ultimate goals involve Constitution-level change.
This originally appeared in Reclaim Democracy in 2013
What exactly ARE our national priorities?
Can anyone tell me? No, seriously. What DO we stand for today, because I am no longer sure.
We don’t feed the hungry or house the homeless. Shit we make them faster than ever these days. Now, entire cities can be rendered bankrupt in the blink of an eye. (See: Detroit, San Bernadino, Vallejo, hell just look the rest of the list yourself, try not to cry.) The hungry and homeless live in shanty towns or die on the street and we just take pictures of them.
We don’t cure disease (last disease we cured was polio and people are still catching it because we can’t stop waging war long enough to see it actually eradicated). Meanwhile we are only making diseases stronger in our factory farms so every meat meal you eat gives you the chance to experience antibiotic-resistant bacteria, first hand. Your next hamburger could be your last. Hope it was a good one.
Our government doesn’t lead, it harangues the poor and disenfranchised when it isn’t looking completely dysfunctional all by itself with conversations debating the wisdom of birth control for women and whether corporations should be allowed to pay for it, trans-vaginal ultrasound to embarrass women into NOT having abortions they won’t get but were supposed to legally have access to since Roe vs Wade, nor will the government be helpful if they are raising the children of their rapists, who will be, of course, looking for parental rights.
We can’t decide what education should look like, only that it should cost as much as possible and be as ineffective as it is expensive. Our police are now functioning as Judges dispensing justice from the barrels of their guns, or armored personnel carriers or coming soon to a city near you, aerial drones.
We don’t allow people to retire in dignity for lives well lived, we allow pensions and soon we will be spending Social Security and Medicare (after we privatize them for flavor) to be gathered up by large corporations and gambled away enriching banks while they bankrupt the rest of the world. Don’t worry, though because we will bail out those pesky banks for still being “too big to fail” and socialize their losses while they capitalize their gains. I guess after a few more cycles of boom and bust with the remainder of our society in ruins we will actually consider putting those bastards behind bars and letting greedy banks go the way of the dinosaur, rendered down for their vital assets and turned back into a public service that helps people rather than impoverishes them. Banks in our modern society act more like bulimics than a financial asset. They eat all of the nations money and puke out the chewed remains of the people who trusted them.
So I ask you again, what does this country stand for these days because, I am not seeing much freedom (you are free to be analyzed, illegally wiretapped and edutained by corporate sponsored newscasters, blonde, perky and not too bright), justice (if you count the Supreme Court which has members who are both homophobic and in the pocket of the corporate powers who run this nation or the judges who put kids in prison for profit keeping corporate prisons full, or perhaps the inability of our justice system to protect citizens who happen to enjoy iced tea and skittles or using mass transit on national holidays).
And we still can’t get a decent set of wages if you aren’t a corporate executive. Wage stagnation, debt consolidation, and government subsidization allows corporations to pay people little or nothing while they work two jobs and still find themselves in need of food stamps, while corporations pocket MAD money from the privatization of the EBT service. Not to mention we still can’t get laws to provide protection from random NRA-mandated acts of violence.
I see a lot of the American Way, though. Exporting jobs, storing cash in foreign banks, utilizing child labor in Third World nations, (watching those underpaid people dying in poorly maintained factories for pennies a day so we can pay less for our clothing) avoiding corporate taxes AND managing to get corporate subsidies while spending as much as they want on the government officials who rotate between being Congressmen or Lobbyist depending on where they are in their cycle of governmental malfeasance.
So I ask you again, what exactly are our national priorities because I hate to tell you it looks a lot like greed, exploitation and good old-fashion buggery to me.
Oh wait. I have a video that sums it up nicely…
America Fuck Yeah, the Deluxe Edition
A parting shot from Tom Tomorrow
A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.
– Bill Clinton, August 28, 2013
Are there any words that can really rationalize this image? When I ask myself how do I show my priorities in my life? My priorities are shown by the ease, dedication and effort I direct toward those issues. If I want my house to be clean, I have to make an effort to do the work necessary to keep it clean and fresh. I throw out my trash regularly. I wash my dishes, after every meal. I sweep or vacuum on a regular schedule. I do a regularly schedule spring and fall clean. So when you come to my house, you recognize I place a value on cleanliness. There are no dishes in the sink, there is no trash stinking up the place, there is no trash sitting on my floor. Seems simple enough?
So by using this logic, it is safe to presume in most states of the nation, it is a higher priority to own a gun than it is to allow for voting. Voting, the right to have say in who runs for office in your nation. The people who will represent your needs to the government and decide how our mutually agreed upon taxes should be spent on things that benefit the nation and the people living within it.
A gun on the other hand seems to be a way of saying I don’t need to vote.
I have a gun.
I can, if I want to, fight against any government that I don’t like, don’t agree with and can along the way, shoot anyone who disagrees with my point of view and isn’t able to shoot me first.
I have a gun.
The gun violence in this nation doesn’t ever seem to go down, either. In the last month, there have been at least five accidental shootings by CHILDREN at other children. There was even an event where two children conspired to stab or shoot a fellow classmate who ANNOYED THEM. Let’s not forget the police shooting an innocent twelve year old who happened to be carrying a toy gun that looked too realistic to them, so their solution was to shoot him dead on the spot. No warning, no information exchanged, the boy’s life and his parents irrevocably changed because some officer decided:
I have a gun.
Is this what we have become? A nation of people whose first solution even at the delicate age of 12 or 13 is to simply assume killing the person who annoys them is AN APPROPRIATE RESPONSE. What happened to getting support from teachers?
No. I have a gun.
What happened to teaching children to negotiate?
No need. I have a gun.
What happened to learning skills that result in resolution and cooperation.
Forget that. I HAVE A GUN.
And I have the right to bear arms or arm bears, into my supermarket, into my Starbucks, into my bar, where other alcoholic gun-toting citizens might, after having a few too many, conceivably decide to shoot someone who disagrees with their perspective because, after all, none of us have ever seen an angry or ugly drunk with poor self-control or anger management issues have we? Nope. Not once.
Let’s not forget the increasing incidence of road rage where the solution to being cut off in traffic is to follow that driver to the supermarket, wait until he gets out of his car and shoot him. Or in a recent incident, the two drivers drew down on each other and summarily killed each other. An appropriate solution to the problem of both road rage, gun possession and inappropriate responses to poor driving etiquette.
But to those two men in that moment, they felt they were obligated to resolve their problem the only way they knew how, the way their concealed weapons permits said they had to.
They had a gun. Problem solved.
But while American Congressmen, in the pocket of the National Rifle Association, don’t seem able to pass any kind of gun legislation that would stop the mad proliferation of guns into a populace already rife with guns, currently it is estimated there are 300 million guns in the United States at any given moment. Yes, nearly one gun for every man, woman and child in this nation.
Is there a reason America has this many guns? Did China indicate they were coming for American farmland and would not be deterred by the world’s most expensive military force? Has the rest of the world had enough of American imperialist behaviors (also know as our foreign policy) and decided they were bringing the fight to our doorstep (might seem appropriate since no foreign force has fought on American soil since the war of 1812)? Are we expecting an alien invasion?
There does not appear to be any effort being made to stem the tide of firearm possession, no matter how many military bases, school yards, office buildings, streets, urban areas, city parks, or government officials get shot. We are a nation of fools assuming having a gun was the same thing as having a vote. Meanwhile corrupt corporations keep gun ownership an issue in the public sphere while they plunder your pensions, cut and privatize what were once government services, making them less effective and more expensive in the same breath.
So I have to ask you citizens, what kind of future are we looking for? Are we looking for one where a real vote in a real democracy has the potential to make the nation we live in a better place? Or are we simply preparing for the day when we decide government isn’t making the nation safer and rushing off to our secret food bunkers where we can proclaim loudly to anyone who dares to approach in the New World Order of anarchy and self determination…
I HAVE A GUN, AND THERE AREN’T ANY LAWS TO PREVENT ME FROM USING IT!
Heaven help us all.