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From: Bart (129.171.32.13)
Subject:         Are You Scared?
Date: August 14, 2007 at 5:00 pm PST

Are You Scared?

By Craig Winters

08/14/07 "ICH" -- -- Multinational corporations sell our jobs to the lowest overseas bidders. The credit industry preys on our poor. The for-profit healthcare system is the leading cause of bankruptcy while hospitals dump indigent patients on skid row. Our country’s infrastructure is breaking down from New Orleans levees to Minnesota bridges even as we are mired in a war that drowns us in debt and advances only the interests of big oil and arms merchants. The Medicare prescription drug law leaves an enormous hole in coverage while it forbids the government from negotiating lower prices on behalf of the people. Bush signed into law a bill making bankruptcy harder and more expensive for people who need relief and now he threatens to veto health insurance for poor children.

How can the government ignore such obvious and immediate needs?

The regulatory and general welfare roles of the government have totally succumbed to the unassailable wealth that corporations have amassed over many generations. Blind quest for personal wealth and power now bind government officials (as well as universities, NGOs and think thanks) into an integrated corporate dominated power structure. Corporations use their money and vast resources to control every aspect of our public institutions. More than just campaign contributions and cash bribes, they offer a rich array of incentives to "team players" including private jets, resort vacations, in kind services, indulgence of vices, and obscenely high paying private positions when they leave government. Corporations use their influence over government officials not just to buy their vote or a favorable ruling, but to seduce them into playing the power game, a life-long pursuit of power and wealth at the expense of principles, allegiances, and common decency. Politicians have neither the will nor the capacity to dismantle this system.

So what can desperate citizens do in the face of a captured government?

Some suggest that efforts to reshape today's world are pointless when today's world will not exist in ten years. This view holds that "peak oil" will impose an inescapable world-changing transition to the "post-carbon" era. Without abundant cheap oil we will all be living local existences. Washington will be far away and insignificant in our lives. Wal-Mart will cease to exist due to the rising costs of materials and transportation. Sporadic or absent electricity will place a premium on manual skills and hand labor. The food we eat and much of the material goods we use in daily life will come from our local economy, and the Washington power crowd will be a vanishing relic of the past.

While I respect this view and believe that peak oil will drastically change all our lives, I also believe that there is time before the worst effects are felt. Now more than ever we need responsible collective action to begin making preparations, investing in alternative energy, and promoting sustainable living. The ruling class also sees these changes coming, but their response is to secure maximum assets for themselves, squeeze our economy for their short-term gain, and leave the common people to scrap among themselves.

The electoral process has failed us – it failed us in Florida, it failed us in Ohio, and it is failing us in Congress today. Seeking change through the political system will beget the usual political response – cosmetic reforms for us, and fat contracts for the corporate overlords. Our government no longer represents our interests so we must speak for ourselves, en mass, not asking but demanding change. For examples of true substantive change look back to the trust busting of Roosevelt and Taft that followed the Populist uprisings in the late 19th century, or the Civil Rights legislation following massive nationwide demonstrations by everyday people. History shows us that a popular uprising will bring about meaningful change. As recently as March of last year HR 4437 criminalizeing undocumented immigration was stopped in its tracks when a million people joined public protests across the country. If we want change now we need people in the streets, lots of angry people, not merely to get the attention of the powerful or to gain their respect, but to put them in fear for their opulent lives.

September 15th could be the day when the people declare they will no longer quietly suffer these corporate and political abuses. Protest events in Washington invite a massive outpouring of pent-up anger from people with many political concerns including issues of war, civil liberties, economic justice, climate change, and 9-11 truth, and it’s going to feel damn good to get out in streets and tell the world how we feel. United, we have sufficient power to threaten the existing structure, and I expect their enforcement machine will respond with disproportionate violence and large scale round ups and detention. The media will then be forced to cover these events and the public will awaken to the true face of the authoritarian system under which we live.

I think the best thing we can do to promote this day is to share with others the thoughts we have late at night when we are alone with our fears and hopes. As we find more like-minded people in our communities we gain confidence and clarity so that when that day comes we will not be cowed by authority but will rise to our feet and join our voices and our strength in challenging this illegitimate government. Politicians will rail and police will crack heads, but I pray we will stand our ground and demand a new balance of power that puts the needs of the people ahead of the insatiable desires of the wealthy few.

Craig Winters is a civil engineer and software professional in Las Cruces, NM who suffered a political awakening while trying to make sense of the US invasion of Iraq.

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