Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Jesus Is A Progressive

Jesus Is A Progressive
by Cindy A. Matthews

Peace of Earth says the Christmas card that comes in the mail alongside a multitude of shopping flyers screaming Buy! Buy! Buy! 

 Something is wrong with this picture.

Something is very wrong with a society when we say Peace of Earth, Goodwill to All Mankind on our Christmas cards, yet our law enforcement officers are protecting a private oil company's pipeline and terrorizing peacefully praying water protectors with concussion grenades and pepper spray. You know what I'm going to say next, don't you?

What would Jesus do? 

One thing, Jesus sure as heck wouldn't want people wasting money (they may or may not have) buying things they could probably do without while their fellow man is going hungry,  homeless, or is being shot at with water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas simply because he wants clean water for his children and grandchildren.  

After all, Jesus was overheard saying such progressive phrases as:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  (Matthew 5:9 NIV)

Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31 NIV)
And the real kicker:
'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25: 35-40 NIV)

No self-respecting, self-serving, military-industrial-complex-loving capitalist oligarch has ever been quoted saying anything remotely this socialistic, right? 

The baby born in Bethlehem whose birthday we celebrate every December 25th is a true progressive. He's always looking out for the ordinary people and telling the oligarchs to stop pretending they care as they exploit the masses. (Dig the way Jesus laid into the teachers of the law--he called them whitewashed tombs, no less.) He's always going to put the health and safety of humanity and our  planet before the private profits of a handful of obscenely wealthy oil barons.

This holiday season let's take back Jesus' besmirched reputation from "Corporate Jesus" once and for all. Boycott stores, banks and corporations such as Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo, and Energy Transfer Partners. Avoid doing business with all who make dirty profits at the risk of the Earth's climate and our water supplies and/or refuse to pay their employees a living wage. Give whatever funds you can to organizations who are fighting for our neighbors' rights to have clean water, unadulterated food, adequate shelter and access to healthcare. Share your time and energy to help those in need at a local shelter, soup kitchen or at Standing Rock if you can travel there. (Click here for a page full of links on how to help the#NoDAPL water protectors. More links in the Climate Hawks announcement below.)

Together, we  can make it a brighter holiday season for all. Let's do it! Let's tell Corporate Jesus where to get off and save the planet. Progressive Jesus would be proud.

1912 Socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs

Economic Models: Capitalism vs. Socialism
by Bern Notice

This has been an interesting year. For the first time in recent memory, we've had a presidential candidate who was not afraid of the term socialist (precisely "Democratic Socialist"). Historically, the term was considered taboo. It was not uncommon to be called a Russian sympathizer if you even uttered the term. The fact that it can be discussed is healthy and allows for a more robust discussion about what the ideal economic model is.

At the same time, capitalism has been America's darling for decades. Countless innovations have been attributed to the capitalist model. The free market model is based on it and is the standard used around the world.

Both economic models have their supporters, some more die hard than others. This piece will show the flaws in both models in their purest senses.

Let's start with socialism. Socialism is defined as follows:

1: Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.

2a : A system of society or group living in which there is no private property.
b : A system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.

3: A stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism

In summary, socialism is the collection of all wealth that would be equally

distributed to all. The flaw in this model is it assumes that all work and effort is equal and, as a direct result, minimizes reward for achievement. It removes rewards entirely for efforts beyond or below the basic required effort or hours beyond the standard work day/week.

A simplified example is as follows:

Jane is a farmhand. She and her co-workers plant and harvest to feed their community. Let's assume the standard work week to get things done and meet their quota is 30 hours.

Jane works 30 hours for week one. As a result, Jane gets $300.

Jane works 60 hours on week two. As a result, Jane gets $300.

Jane works 20 hours on week three. As a result, Jane gets $300.

Regardless of how much or how little time or effort Jane puts in, she still makes $300. This model relies on the honor system because there are no rewards or consequences for doing more or less than required.

Those who are less motivated will do less and collect the same amount of income as those who put in more hours or work. This will also lead to frustration with other co-workers who may be picking up the extra work. Eventually, their productivity may drop, and there will be less food to distribute to the community.

Granted, there will always be those who do less even under capitalism. However, there is no potential reward structure in place for those who do more than their counterparts. The purest model of socialism isn't sustainable. It potentially leads to totalitarianism.

Next, let's look at capitalism. It is defined as follows:

1: An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.

In essence, the purest form of capitalism is all about private ownership and maximizing profit. The problems with this model is that it assumes all things are best run using a for-profit model. Because the profit motive is always first, the well-being and best interest of those whom it takes advantage of is not a concern.

Here's a simplified example:

Joe builds a business from scratch and makes a healthy profit for his investment in his new enterprise. He commands an income of well over $1,000,000 per year. His employees are payed well above minimum wage and are happy. He expands his business to where its footprint is in all 50 states.

A year later Joe's income doubles, his employees that run his operation on the ground level are making a little over minimum wage and morale starts to decline.

Six months later, Joe and his share holders want to increase profits. They cut pay to minimum wage while the executive staff grants themselves a pay hike.

One year later, Joe and the board of directors feel that it's too expensive to make things in the United States. They fire all of their employees, move to a third world nation and hire cheaper labor. They also grant themselves a pay raise for increasing profitability.

As outlined here, the profit motive isn't always the best answer, either. The profits will go to those who have the control while everyone else suffers from the lack of upward mobility and likely loss of work due to cheaper labor being found elsewhere in the world. In other words, pure capitalism potentially leads to oligarchy.

Great, so what is the optimal form of government? The optimal form of government is one that blends the two together. Neither should have complete domination of our economic system. Capitalism should be kept in check by socialism and vice versa.

Police, roads, the military, national disaster relief, social security, education

and the government itself are all funded by all tax payers and provide services from the pools of money collected from its citizens. Few would have a problem with these services being granted by the state as they would be too expensive/impractical to be executed on our own. That's socialism.

Banks, supermarkets, 401Ks, and the vast number of employers all run on the capitalist model. The rewards they offer for making profits and putting in the extra time to make deadlines can be a net positive.

It is a good thing to have government oversight and unions (ones that aren't corrupt) in place to keep the for-profit motive in check from abusing its employees. It's good to have business in place that can offer certain services that government institutions do. This keeps that state itself from having 100 percent control of everything, and offers an alternative to those who may not want to use the public option.

In short, the best economic model is the one that utilizes the best parts of both. The difficulty in doing so is making sure that one doesn't have more power than the other. That job falls to us. It is our responsibility to not just vote for who we want in power but to take an active part in it and possibly be part of it.

What are your thoughts? What economic model do you think would make the most sense? Why? (Write your comments in the comments section below.)

BIO: Bern Notice shares his insights on Google+ and leads the political revolution through his wise words.


 Update on the DAPL 
and Other Related Oil-Abominations

This blog was set to publish before the recent announcement by the Army Corp of Engineers to stop work on the DAPL so an environmental assessment could be done. This is great news, but it doesn't mean the Standing Rock Sioux and the Missouri River are safe. When Donald Trump takes office in little over a month's time, we could find ourselves right back where we started from. The pipeline building and the "oil police" brutality against the water protectors could start all over again. Now is not the time to become complacent. Remain vigilant. Stay informed. Be alert to sudden changes and actions taking place in North Dakota.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is only one of many scheduled to be built in the coming days in the US. In Ohio we are currently fighting the building of the Nexus Pipeline. It is planned to cross under the Maumee River, which is a water supply to many cities in the area before it empties into Lake Erie (yet another water supply for millions). But concerned citizens aren't taking this lying down. 
 A record-breaking 150 showed up to a Bowling Green city council meeting Monday night to air their views on the Nexus Pipeline's crossing  the Maumee River close to the city's water supply--which includes Bowling Green State University. The city council voted unanimously to decline the Nexus builder's offer to pay for an easement on city property next to the  water treatment plant. One small victory in what is sure to be a long battle.

Recently another pipeline has been proposed to start in this area as well--the Rover Pipeline. It's to be built by none other than Energy Transfer Partners, the builders of DAPL, and is already threatening to obtain farmland by means of eminent domain. 

To make matters worse, Ohio's only national forest, Wayne National Forest, is under attack by the fracking industry. The Forest Service wants to auction off leases to the frackers. Guess where all the toxic fracking wastewater will wind up? In our rivers, streams and ponds--including the great and beautiful Ohio River. What a legacy to leave our children and grandchildren!

We can't close our eyes for a second, folks. The fossil fuels barons want to make the most of these dwindling resources, and they don't seem to care about the negative impact it will have on our environment or our health. So, stand up, be counted and shout out, "People over pipelines! Keep it in the ground!"


From Climate Hawks:

The tribes of the Camp of Sacred Stones are calling on allies across the world to take action every day in December.



The water protectors are calling for direct actions, demonstrations and other disruptions targeting the banks behind the pipeline. In August, a group of banks agreed to lend $2.5 billion to Dakota Access. But $1.4 billion of this loan is still on hold until the Army Corps grants the final permits for the pipeline. This means that there is still time for the banks involved in this loan to cut their line of credit.

If you want to set up your own action, drop us a line - we’re happy to help. Email rlm@climatehawksvote.com with your action idea and we’ll get it on the map.


We are also encouraging people to close their accounts with these banks. The 17 banks financing the pipeline include most of the large, national banks in the US, Europe, and Japan.


Sheriff departments and police departments from across the Midwest have sent officers to violently attack and suppress water protectors. We are calling on these departments to permanently withdraw their officers from Standing Rock. We can win: The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office withdrew after facing protests in Minneapolis.


The tribes are inviting all people of conscience to join the encampments at Standing Rock by December 5. Conditions are harsh, and only those who are ready and able should make the journey.


On November 20th, the police and National Guard violently attacked the peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, sound grenades, and sprayed them with water cannons in subfreezing conditions, hundreds of people were injured. The next day, the police assault continued, leading to further casualties, including climate activist Sophia Wilansky’s catastrophic injury when a concussion grenade exploded by her left arm.

We're grateful to be able to report that the Climate Hawks Vote community responded with an outpouring of support for Sophia’s recovery - over $34,000 has been raised from more than 1,100 contributors.

Sophia is out of intensive care but requires further major surgery to reconstruct her shattered arm. She still has not recovered any sensation in her fingers, though she and her family continue to hope. At her request, the funds raised by Climate Hawks Vote members will be divided equally between her medical fund and the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council, the indigenous organization working to protect the health of the water protectors.

In addition to contributing our thoughts to the prayers for Sophia and the other water protectors, we must also turn our bodies to action.

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