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You're Not Free to Plant Your Garden
(in the city of Toledo, Ohio)
by C.A. Matthews
The lovely garden plot above is one created by Toledo resident (and professional landscaper) Thomas Jackson. (I wrote about Mr. Jackson's troubles with the city of Toledo earlier this year.) The city continues to fine him for having wood chips composting on his land. Many other urban agriculture experts and elected officials throughout the state and nation, up to and including U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, have commended Thomas on his stewardship of the land and how he's made the city a much brighter and healthier place by his planting of trees, vegetables and shrubs. (This local news video shows what his wood chip covered land looks like.)
However, this isn't enough for Toledo city council. They issued a warrant for his arrest with a $10,000 bail because he hasn't moved his wood chip compost piles. The charge is failing to abate a nuisance, a first degree misdemeanor. Even the health department has found Jackson's wood chip piles to be safe. There is no safety or health reason to move them, only the city council's hatred of them. The city says it will remove the mulch if he doesn't by April 16. (Does that mean the city wants to sell it and make a profit at Thomas' expense?)
The lesson to learn here is being a good citizen and beautifying your city by growing veggies for your neighbors isn't permissible if someone in high office holds a grudge against you and/or wants to appropriate your land or resources on it. You are not free to plant your garden and make your corner of the world a brighter, healthier place if you're not a billionaire or have made friends with those in high places. At least not in the city of Toledo, Ohio.
If you disagree with the despicable way the city of Toledo has treated and continues to treat Thomas Jackson, please join his support group's Facebook page and support his GoFundMe page to cover legal expenses. You can also call the municipal housing court judge C. Allen McConnell at 419-245-1946 and tell him what you think. And please email or call any and all of the Toledo city council members via their contact page. It's time to take a stand for our planet and our right to beautify it through urban agriculture, isn't it?
Maybe one day we'll all be free to plant our gardens, and we'll all be able to breathe just a little easier.
Freedom For Sale
(Virtue & Liberty for Sale to the Highest Bidder)
by Cindy A. Matthews
Benjamin Franklin in 1755 said, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Recent events have proven Franklin's insights correct.
We are groped and molested in airport security lines, and yet we're still bombing foreign lands in the name of "safety," killing hundreds of civilians such as recently in the Iraqi city of Mosul and in countries such as Yemen. We feel unsafe in spite of giving up our personal freedom from bodily search and material seizure of our personal property by the TSA. Sadder yet, the innocent bystanders of the oil-laden Middle East are still at liberty to be killed indiscriminately by American drone bombing.
Franklin wrote several years earlier in his Poor Richard's Almanac (1738): "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power." This we've experienced recently in Congress passing a bill which allows the selling of our internet browser histories to private corporations--and our own security agencies--without our expressed consent. While many fear being deluged with more annoying pop-up ads, the implications here are much more sinister. Just as another breaking story recently confirmed that our Smart TV and other devices with built in cameras and/or microphones are able to spy on us without us knowing it, by having free access to our internet history governments and corporations are able to spy on our internet habits and use that information against us if they so wish.
The "virtue" of our elected officials has been sold to the highest bidder. A look at recent "donations" to Republican Congressmen shows how much telecommunications giant Comcast was willing to pay to have this legislation enacted. By selling one of our essential freedoms, our right to privacy, these elected officials have become wealthier and Comcast and other corporations much more powerful.
What's to prevent your employer for purchasing your internet history and discovering a secret you wish to keep hidden? For instance, you could suffer from a rare genetic disorder and frequently read articles about it online and belong to online forums to discuss with other sufferers how to live with the disorder. Your employer can now buy your internet browser history and use this damning information against you to make you do things you'd rather not do or simply to fire you, which is easily done in "right to hire" states.
What's to prevent a government agency from blackmailing you into performing a service for them you find personally distasteful or amoral because they've found something embarrassing on your computer? Nothing at all would stop these abuses of power under this legislation.
Franklin's words echo across the ages: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." We have neither freedom nor security in America today. Still, our bought-off representatives want to deprive us of what little liberty or safety we have left.
Why do we the people allow travesties like this to continue? It's time to overturn the Citizens United ruling and take big money out of politics. At the very least it will make it difficult for billionaires and corporations from buying our elected officials' "virtue" and prevent them from trying to take more of our freedoms away in an attempt to amass greater power.
If you don't think billionaires and corporations wish to use their great wealth to amass even more power by purchasing our elected officials' "virtue," then why are we watching our civil liberties being whittled away? Why are some elitists hell-bent on outlawing gay marriage and preventing transgender individuals from using the bathroom in public places? Why does money from the Industrial Military Complex (which includes Big Oil) bribe our politicians to militarize our local police forces in order to kill innocent African Americans and use pepper spray against peaceful people praying beside their sacred water at Standing Rock?
Don't be so naïve in thinking those in authority have your best interests in mind. The only interests they have in mind are their wallets and forcing their personal prejudices upon the public.
It's time to act as Benjamin Franklin and other like-minded supporters of liberty did in 1776. We remove these thieving aristocrats from office through the ballot box or by other means if necessary. The Political Revolution is one of the heart and soul, but all able-bodied patriots should be ready to take it to the streets.
Franklin's contemporary Patrick Henry said it well: "Give me liberty or give me death!" It's time for our corrupt system of government to die so a truly free one can live.
Our Revolution Rally in Boston
by C.A. Matthews
"Despair is not an option!" Bernie Sanders shouted to a packed auditorium in Boston, Massachusetts Friday night. "They got the money, but we got the people."
The Our Revolution Rally brought back happy memories for many of us long-time Berners. We gathered with our local Our Revolution group to watch the livestream broadcast (video above--Bernie takes the stage at the 1:11 mark), and it felt like the old days before the DNC rigged the primaries against Bernie to install their corporate-owned-and-operated candidate. Even Bernie had something to say about that fiasco: "The Democrats lost the election--Trump didn't win it." Either way, the results were the same, and Berners still wonder if Bernie won't break away after 2018 from the establishment party to form a new "People's Party" such as the one proposed by DraftBernie.org.
"We have a profound moral crisis," Bernie claimed in regards to how the wealthy elite want an even larger slice of the economic pie. With 52% of all new income going to the top 1%, he stated, "We should create an economy that works for all of us, not just the billionaire class." Bernie said he would be submitting legislation soon for a guaranteed health care bill through a Medicare for All program (to match the House version, H.R. 676) and he promised to introduce bills for universal child care, equal pay for equal work, and free public education and the reduction of student debt.
Bernie also called for a transformation of the Democratic Party to a party of the working class, a grassroots party and not a party of professional politicians spending all their time raising money from corporate donors and billionaires. He pointed out how ordinary Americans sincerely believe in a progressive agenda and not a neo-liberal/neo-conservative one. For instance, most Americans agree billionaires should pay their fair share of taxes. "Create jobs not jails," and "Hire teachers not fire teachers," he said, receiving thunderous applause. "We've got to get our hands dirty and get out in the streets," in order to build a fifty state party and not just a coastal one.
Bernie was introduced by hometown girl Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). He thanked her by saying, "You can tell the qualities of a person by the enemies she makes--she's made some wonderful enemies." Senator Warren gave a rousing speech, stating, "We are in this fight because we believe in an America that works for all of us." She espoused progressive ideals such as support for universal health care, women's reproductive rights, B.L.M., and support for science and climate change research. However, many viewers still expressed some doubts about Warren's progressive leanings. They questioned the truthfulness of her statement, "We believe democracy is not for sale," in regards to overturning Citizens United since she's taken corporate donations and never once came out in support of Bernie during the primaries.
April 23 will bring a national online rally for Our Revolution community groups, and our local group looks forward to getting together again then. In the meantime, we're getting our "hands dirty" by sponsoring another health care town hall on April 8 along with many other local activist opportunities, and hope you will do the same in your area.
Just in time--Democracy Convention III
Reserve your space now!
A lot has happened since Move to Amend helped convene the first Democracy Convention in 2011, but one thing hasn't changed--the need for a broad based, strategic, and unified democracy movement. We know you are committed to strengthening democracy where it matters most, and are willing to do the hard work necessary to build and sustain a democratic society organized for the people, by the people. Please join us again for nine conferences under one roof at the third Democracy Convention!
In our continuing our role as a convening organization, Move to Amend will take part in the 2017 Democracy Convention in Minneapolis, August 2 - 6.
Last year, our network of volunteer leaders met in Washington DC for our very first leadership conference. This year, Move to Amend is leading the "Democratizing the Constitution Conference" at the Democracy Convention. Please join us.
This year's theme is "Universalizing Resistance, Democratizing Power!" Click here to register for Democracy Convention 2017
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