Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Unnatural Capitalism

We Can Change Things

Other things, like capitalism... are not forces of nature; we invented them. They are not immutable and we can change them. --Dr. David Suzuki, Canadian environmental activist

It's the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, so here's a meme giving us a glaring example of capitalism gone off the deep end and the damage it has done--and continues to do--to our planet:
All the waste of water, pollution of the soil and air, and the degradation to our environment--and for what? To make a handful of predominantly white males billions of dollars  in profits each year. A monoculture lawn of non-native grass sprayed with cancer-causing Round-Up doesn't exactly feed your family like a vegetable garden would. It doesn't help with massive rain run off or prevent drought that a stand of trees would in the same place, either. Why have we allowed ourselves to be fooled into supporting billionaires at the expense of our health and future by becoming lawn mower jockeys?

After I read Ruth's comments (below) on "unnatural capitalism"  many seemingly disparate things gelled in my mind. The unnatural, immoral aspects of late-stage capitalism are at the root of most (if not all) of our problems. Can you see how this selfish concept of making profits off the misery of our fellow human beings plays out in the following news items?

Killing Gaza--A documentary film about life for Palestinians under siege in Gaza. Watch the movie here:   https://killinggaza.com/ 

US Suicide Rates Have Climbed Dramatically:
Immigrant families separated and deported without due process:

Border Control Kicked, Punched Immigrant Children, Threatened Some with Sexual Abuse:

Sandusky, Ohio--114 workers arrested in an immigration raid, leaving young children behind

(Dirk Droll covers the immigration topic well at his Beanstock's World blog:  https://beanstocksworld.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/ending-mass-migration/#more-6650 )
CEO Pay: Rewarding or Hoarding? (Or how CEOs make 300+ times more than their employees):  https://youtu.be/IUTcuB5TZdY

4,645 Deaths in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria were "State-Sponsored Mass Killing":

Puerto Rico Deaths Post-Maria: Nearly 70% Were Over 70 Years

In each of these stories and videos, it's  clear what has caused (or exacerbated) the suffering of our fellow human beings--greed. A small handful of individuals stand to make a lot of money off of ongoing wars for oil and resources and selling military grade weapons to Americans who shouldn't have them in the first place. Profits flow like unpolluted, unblocked streams for those who take advantage of immigrant labor/human trafficking/slave wages. And "disaster capitalism"  makes wealth from the pain and despair of others when, through no fault of their own, they lose their homes and livelihoods because of a hurricane or similar destructive natural event (which are predicted to become more intense in severity due to climate change).

If you don't see what I mean, read Ruth's article and think on it awhile. The pieces of the puzzle might just come together. --C.A.M.
Unnatural Capitalism
by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Traveling on a bus for over ten hours this weekend, and seeing lots of road, I had a lot of time to think. What really struck me is how unnatural capitalism seems. That's right. UNNATURAL.

The same stores all over--bilking ordinary people from their hard earned money. The same restaurants all over charging exorbitant prices for unhealthy food. The same environmental destruction everywhere. Yes, it makes the one-percent even wealthier, but it leaves the rest of us tired and damaged from working so hard...and sick, then bankrupt. We try to remedy all this with expensive healthcare.

Of course, the one-percent actively controls the world to make it increasingly impossible to change anything. Police enforcement becomes terror. Protest is increasingly illegal. Media is shunted off into the back roads, or in the case of Julian Assange put in solitary confinement. Tortured really. Even a highly popular politician like Bernie is just plain cheated--differently in each state. Though so many turned out to vote for him it was already decided.

The way forward is hard, but one thing is certain. Many many of us are wide awake now. Eyes wide open. I'm personally not so sure what tactic will fail or succeed, and I have doubts the old playbook is even that relevant anymore. I've long been a proponent of trying to figure out things in the moment.

I am really only certain of one thing: We can't rely on elected leaders. We the people are the revolution, and the big lie is that some people are better and some are lesser. Why can't we all be artists part of the time after working a four or five hour shift? Who says some people are gifted but most of the rest are not? Why are only some allowed to fulfill their dreams? Why are only some people seen as special or gifted or talented? The rest are left to labor to build a world to profit the one-percent and the rulers with their vision of the complete enslavement of mankind.

BIO: Ruth is a progressive activist in Seattle and a frequent commentator on Facebook.

Here's another good piece to think on.
Character Building
by Sean Nestor

People who experience difficult and even traumatic events tend to be better at developing empathy and compassion
-- traits we consider virtuous. They also tend to suffer from depression and suicidal inclinations - traits we consider unfortunate. There is a deep irony and tragedy to all of this.

From personal experience, the desperation I feel from suicidal inclinations has given me the motivation to take risks that have in turn helped me do great things, both for myself and others. And it's never been lost on me that people love what I am motivated to do, but saddened by what motivates me to do it.

I think this dynamic is more important than we think, because people who architect societies often take advantage of this difficult truth. Historically, the powerful have always said that it's actually good to have a society of miserable people, because being miserable is what motivates people to improve themselves -- "It builds character." That's why it makes sense for a few people to get everything while everyone else suffers, or so they say.

Personally, I think that between illness, death, and natural disasters, life is hard enough that we don't need governments and economies manufacturing more "character building" exercises for us. But, that's me
-- and that's why I use the desperation I feel as a motivating force to dismantle the power structures behind it.

Sean Nestor is an educator and activist from Toledo, Ohio. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Single Payer Action Network and Co-Chair of the Lucas County Green Party.

The Revolution Continues blog turns three years old this month, and we are sad to inform you that one of its co-creators, Barb McMillen, has passed away. Barb will be sorely missed by her family and friends in the political revolution. Barb was a Bernie delegate at the Philadelphia convention in 2016, and she never lost her enthusiasm for the progressive senator from Vermont. 

RIP Barb. May we fight on in your name to build a future to believe in!
Barbara Ann Fialkowski McMillen passed away on June 2, 2018, at the age of 71 following a long and brave battle against heart failure.

Barbara was born on July 18, 1946, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the first of eleven children born to Marion Fialkowski and Leona Lankford Fialkowski.

Following high school, she spent half a year working at the Sears store near her home on James Street and then volunteered for VISTA, the federal Volunteers in Service to America program. She was assigned to rural West Virginia where she lived with a large family and taught in a one-room schoolhouse.
Returning to Philadelphia, she lived at home while attending Temple University where she majored in English in the College of Education. Four years later she completed her undergraduate degree and decided to apply to graduate schools. Ohio University in Athens offered her a teaching assistantship in English beginning in the fall of 1969. There she met another first year graduate student William (Bill) McMillen. They fell in love and were married on January 17, 1970, a scant four months after they met. At the time of her death, they had been married for more than 48 years.
She received her Master’s degree in 1972 and her doctorate in 1976 from Ohio University.

Barbara and Bill adopted a second son, Mark, who was nearly four when he came to live with his new family. Mark had special education needs that Barbara recognized because she had two younger brothers who were severely mentally and physically disabled. In the sixties, Barbara’s parents had challenged the Philadelphia school system and the state of Pennsylvania that they could not discriminate against the two boys and deny them a public education. The Fialkowski law suit became the legal cornerstone of the ground-breaking federal law PL 94-142 establishing free and equal public education for all children.

Barbara always had a keen interest in politics and as a teenager in Philadelphia shook hands with President John F. Kennedy. She was a supporter of President Barack Obama. In 2016, she supported presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and was elected to be a delegate for Bernie at the Philadelphia Democratic National Convention. It was one of the great experiences of her life.

In loving memory of Barbara, please consider making a donation to her personal charity of choice, the Fialkowski Scholarship at Temple University, which grants yearly scholarships to students majoring in disability studies. Checks should be made out to Temple University Institute on Disabilities (denote: Fialkowski Scholarship). The mailing address is Institute on Disabilities, Temple University, Fialkowski Scholarship, 411 Student Center South, 1755 N. 13th St., Philadelphia, PA 19122.

The Revolution Continues has set up an easy way to donate to the cause of keeping it ad-free. Three years without obnoxious ads (that many  sites have to cover costs) has been great, but there are overhead costs such as internet, electricity, etc. Any amount you can donate to keep this progressive site going without those awful ads is appreciated. Thank you.

You can donate via Paypal at http://paypal.me/camatthews 
Power to the people and not the corporations!


From Credo:

Four years after it began, Flint, Michigan's water crisis is not over. Earlier this year, tests found lead levels above the federal limit in the water at nine percent of Flint’s high schools.1

But we now know that the crisis goes far, far beyond Flint – and the children poisoned in Flint are not alone. Over 3,000 American neighborhoods have childhood lead poisoning rates at least double those in Flint during the peak of its contamination crisis.2 Over 1,000 areas tested with a rate of elevated blood levels at least four times as high as Flint’s at the height of the crisis.3 In one neighborhood in Cleveland, nearly half the children have lead poisoning.4
No family should fear that turning on the tap could poison their child and harm them for life – no matter what their zip code is. Reps. Keith Ellison and Ro Khanna recently introduced the Water Affordability, Transparency Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act of 2018, which would start the process of addressing this crisis. We must build grassroots support for this crucial legislation now.

Tell Congress: Pass the WATER Act. Click here to sign the petition.
Lead is a cumulative toxin particularly harmful to young children, who can suffer profound and permanent damage to the brain and nervous system.5 There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe. In the wake of its water contamination crisis, Flint saw a measurable rise in miscarriages, fetal deaths and illnesses.

In 2016, Congress finally directed $170 million in aid to Flint.7 But the Center for Disease Control's entire budget for assisting states with lead poisoning this year is just one-tenth of that.8 We must do better.

The WATER Act would provide $35 billion a year in federal funding to improve community drinking water and wastewater services.9 It would also provide grants to replace lead service lines going into homes, remove lead pipes and plumbing in schools, and upgrade home wells and septic systems.10

In thousands of neighborhoods across the country, systematic neglect and denial of basic infrastructure are limiting children's futures. No one bill will solve the problem, but we have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference – if our legislators act.

Tell Congress: Pass the WATER Act. Click the link below to sign the petition:

Thanks for fighting back,
Brandy Doyle, Campaign Manager CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Sign the petition ►

  1. Joe Diazo, "Flint, Michigan, water crisis update: Government spends thousands per day for bottled water," Newsweek, March 14, 2018.
  2. M.B. Pell and Joshua Schneyer, Special Report: Thousands of U.S. areas afflicted with lead poisoning beyond Flint's," Reuters, Dec. 19, 2016.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. World Health Organization, "Lead poisoning and health: Key facts," Feb. 9, 2018.
  6. Ayana Byrd, "New Legislation Aims to Prevent the Next Flint Water Crisis," Colorlines, April 25, 2018.
  7. M.B. Pell and Joshua Schneyer, Special Report: Thousands of U.S. areas afflicted with lead poisoning beyond Flint's," Reuters, Dec. 19, 2016.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Byrd, "New Legislation Aims to Prevent the Next Flint Water Crisis."
  10. Ibid.

Why stand apart, when we can rise together
Labels for GMOs are coming to a grocery store near you. When the USDA proposed the symbols below to indicate that a food product is genetically engineered, the agency specifically requested research on how people interpret the symbols.

Let's give 'em what they wanted! Take our survey and tell the USDA how you interpret these symbols for genetically engineered food.
GMO symbols
We'll be submitting these (anonymized) survey results with the rest of your public comments on the USDA's overall plan to label genetically engineered food.

In it together,
The SierraRise Team

A single banana wrapped in plastic? Seriously?
Have you noticed how much ridiculous plastic packaging is on the shelves of your local grocery store? A single potato wrapped in plastic. A cucumber. A banana. Seriously?

Not only is it absurd to wrap produce that already has a peel in plastic, this excessive single-use plastic pollutes our communities, rivers, and oceans. Plus, plastic isn’t actually keeping our food clean and many types of plastics leach harmful chemicals into our bodies.  

But it doesn't have to be like this. When supermarkets realize that people like you are rising up and demanding that they do better, we've seen them change. Ten years ago, every supermarket had a failing score on selling unsustainable seafood — but after years of corporate campaigning, we've seen massive improvement across the sector that has lead to real protections in the ocean. 

We know the same thing can happen for plastic pollution if retailers hear from enough of us — and that's where you come in.

We are preparing to launch a new campaign challenging supermarkets to cut single use plastic and we want our most committed plastic pollution fighters — folks like you — to help lay the groundwork by calling out the #PointlessPlastic you see on the shelves. 

It’s a simple action that can have major reverberations through the supermarket industry. Companies care about their brand image and what their customers think, and if enough of us push them to reduce their plastic footprint they will. 

It’s an exciting moment to take on this issue — cities are passing laws to transition away from single-use plastic packaging and big corporations are stepping up too. Bon Appétit Management Company just announced that it would ban plastic straws and stirrers in its 1,000 cafés and restaurants throughout 33 states. Ikea just committed to phasing out single-use plastics by 2020, and Iceland supermarket in the UK is phasing out single-use plastic in all its own-brand products. If they can do it, so can your local grocery store. 

The tide is turning, and when we all work together we can make massive change happen. 
So let's get rid of #PointlessPlastic once and for all!

Anna Wagner
Senior National Organizer, Greenpeace USA

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