Friday, December 31, 2010

You Don't Know What Oppression Looks Like

Funny thing. You see oppression every day. And not just on the news.

You see it everywhere. It is so common that like the weather, you begin to think it just happens... that's just the way life is.

You're wrong.

Oppression isn't just the way life is.

Oppression is the life we have allowed to happen.

But before we can see the oppression, we have to open our eyes. It isn't that the oppression is that hard to see. It's that we don't want to believe what we see.

I'm sure you've heard the saying; “Where you stand on a subject depends upon where you sit.” But it is also true that; what you see depends upon what you've been led to believe you are going to see.

I will use a fictional story for an unbiased example. Most everyone has seen The Wizard of Oz. Remember the “Good” Witch? She may actually be the greatest movie villain of all time. How? The “Good” Witch framed Dorothy as the murderer of the Wicked Witch of the East (though it was an accidental death, when her house fell on the WW of the East). The “Good” Witch steals the only remaining possession of the WW of the East (her shoes) and superglues them to Dorothy's feet. The “Good” Witch rejoices in taunting the grieving WW of the West while she has no power in Munchinland. And even though all Dorothy wants is to go home (and is wearing the shoes that could get her home), the “Good” Witch sends Dorothy away from the safety of Munchinland to eventually kill the WW of the West too. There is more. But I think I've made my point.

We saw the “Good” Witch as good in the Wizard of Oz, because that's what we believed we would see. Even though there were many instances where, had we have been looking from a different perspective, we would have seen her as far more wicked than the Wicked Witch of the West. At least the WW of the West had a reason for being angry. She believed her sister had been murdered. On the other hand, the “Good” Witch was scheming and evil for no apparent reason... But we didn't see it... We didn't see it because we weren't looking for it.

As long as we believed she was the Good Witch, she could do no wrong in our eyes. Which meant she could get away with anything.

Like an optical illusion for your mind, the movie Wizard of Oz shows us how our perceptions commit us to erroneous conclusions. We see good in what we expect to see good in – and somehow totally ignore the bad. (Or the other way around.)

There are many things in life we are not looking for. We Americans believe that America is good. We have read the Bill of Rights, and it is good. We vote, and we believe that our democracy is good. We have read about freedom, and guess what? We believed free trade was good – until our economy was gutted and all our businesses were monopolized.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines oppression as an; “unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power.” This is a rather broad definition. But clear. And revealing. Oppression looks like oppression, even if we don't expect to find it there.

So, where do we look? We look where people are forced (either by force or by contrived circumstances) to be the beasts of burden for others. We look where positive change is suppressed. We look where those who resist are punished unfairly. We look where those who might resist are neutralized. We look where those who perpetuate the oppression are rewarded handsomely. And we look where those who reveal the oppression are oppressed themselves.

Here are some examples:

Let's consider a college education. Everyone knows that a college education is the ticket to a better life. Right? But what happens when the price of a college education quadruples? And what happens when the scholarships dry up and the only way to pay for that college education is with student loans and credit cards? And what happens when the economy dries up and college graduates can't get high paying jobs to pay back those loans? All of a sudden, a college education is a ticket to decades of debt. And even if the college graduate does get a job, it will be many years before those debts are paid off. What does that mean? Servitude.

Let's face it. Many recent college graduates have accomplished everything they set out to. And now they are wage slaves. Debtors – who have to do whatever is asked of them to pay off their debts. They are ripe for exploitation. In a way, our best and brightest are often now victims of corporatist oppression. The ticket to a better life has turned out to be a life pigeonholed as a subservient cog in the corporate machine – if you're lucky.

OK. Now let's consider their professors. Decades ago; professors, and especially tenured professors had the freedom to speak their minds. During the McCarthyism era, they lost that right. Radical and left wing professors were quietly purged from universities during that time. And what remained was an oppressed group of intellectuals – who still to this day don't speak out – in the one place where we need open discourse more than any place else.

However, getting fired for being different is a minor trifle for a another group of people – Americans in prison. We, in the land of the free, imprison more people per capita than any other nation on Earth. America's prison population is almost seven times what it was 30 years ago. (In Washington D.C.... three out of every four young black men can expect to see time in prison.) Numerous studies have shown that there is no substantial difference between the crime rates of whites vs. non-whites. And numerous studies have shown that substantially more blacks go to prison than whites for the same crime. (In some states, black men have been incarcerated on drug charges at rates 20 to 50 times greater than white men.)

And what are all these young men of color going to prison for? Most often victimless crimes of the Drug War. Two million people sit in prison in America – most of them for drug offenses. Portugal's decriminalization of drug offenses has shown that none of the awful consequences the drug war advocates predicted about decriminalization would happen. Yet we still keep spending billions of dollars locking up people who actually need treatment – or jobs.

And guess what? Many of these felons will never be able to vote again. America still has Jim Crow laws. The War on Drugs essentially further oppresses the oppressed to keep them oppressed.

But even if we were to ignore the racial inequities (which is impossible), it should now be obvious that this isn't actually a War on Drugs. This is a War on the Left. Right wingers drink alcohol. Left wingers take drugs. Left wingers who get caught with drugs often lose their right to vote. The War on Drugs disenfranchises the Left. This is not a coincidence. President Richard Nixon started the War on Drugs during the period of Viet Nam War resistance. The War on Drugs was intended, at least in part, as oppression of the Left from the very beginning.

Which leads me to my next subject, legal drugs. Big Pharma has been raking in billions of dollars selling antipsychotic, ADHD, and antidepressant drugs to Americans. Some of these drugs have been shown to be no more effective than placebos. Returning veterans with Post Traumatic Stress have claimed that marijuana works better (without the side effects, both physical and psychological, and addictive like symptoms). But of course, marijuana is illegal. On the other hand, these legal drugs have side effects that would be an atrocity in any other circumstances. Numerous suicides, murders, and even mass murders have been implicated from these drugs' prescribed use. But most revealing as a form of oppression; millions of Americans have been turned so numb that they feel like walking zombies. Think about it. The people in America who are the most unhappy have been drugged, by the millions, into a desensitized state. The people most likely to complain have been neutralized. The drug companies who unleashed these drugs on Americans may not have originally intended this to be oppression, but it is now. And as dangerous as these drugs are, with so little regulatory oversight; it doesn't take much of a conspiratorial paranoia to suspect that some people in power want to keep this kind of control – no matter how many lives are ruined.

So, why is it that we don't hear more about things like this? Money. The mass media is addicted to it. Those who have taken it upon themselves to inform America are just making too damn much money keeping us distracted. In 2009, Fox News made revenues of 1.2 billion dollars. For that kind of money, some people would say anything.

Are lies and half-truths forms of oppression? Of course. If someone can convince you to do something that isn't in your best interest, and manipulates you to make painful and costly mistakes; that is definitely oppression. Do it small time and you're called a con artist. Do it big time and you're called a pundit...

A recent study by has revealed that the majority of Americans believed false things about National issues right before the 2010 election. This wasn't an accident. This was a form of oppression.

Since the mass media has failed so badly at informing Americans what is really going on, a huge number of Internet sites (this site included) have filled the void. But that is just a temporary leak (like WikiLeaks), if the corporatocracy has their way. And with the recent Obama FCC rulings, sites such as mine are going to have a harder and harder time getting an audience.

Verizon did not invent the internet. Verizon makes plenty of money without having to privatize the Internet. And Verizon should have no right to profiteer off of the Internet. Net neutality is a matter of First Amendment rights. There should be no “compromise” on the First Amendment. But conveniently, “our” government doesn't recognize bloggers as the press. So, in their eyes, it's OK to cut off our communications links to favor the mass media. Why? So that people like you will have no way of knowing how oppressed we really are.

Most likely, you are a wage slave. Your wages keep dropping in real dollars – and have been for the past 30 years. They blame it on foreign wage competition. But who manipulated our trade policies with promises of free trade? And then who moved their factories to other countries so they wouldn't have to pay as much in wages? And now who keeps you in fear of losing your job? The very same people who have manipulated our government to oppress you.

The recent trillion dollar tax giveaway to the rich pretty much tells you where our government stands. Oppression has many forms... And you'll feel oppressed when you're too busy working (to pay your taxes and monopoly prices for goods) to organize any protest that less and less of your tax monies come back to you in services. Expect austerity measures like America has never seen before in 2011. And expect them only in social services (and corporate oversight). When these guys are done, there will be no safety net for the poor or the middle class. But there will be for the to-big-to-fail. When the super-rich fail again, like the big banks did in 2008, expect even more of your tax dollars to be wasted. This is undeniably what oppression looks like.

Speaking of wasted tax dollars: America recently created the Department of Homeland Security, a domestic CIA of sorts. But it won't be a government agency for long. With all of this contrived controversy about TSA and those full-body scanners, TSA and other sections of Homeland Security are likely soon to be privatized (in a feeding frenzy of corporate greed).

Is that bad?

Well, let's just consider this; the Alabama Department of Homeland Security has classified gay rights groups and environmentalists as potential terrorists. What??? These are people who want to make America more tolerant and sustainable – not blow things up. But “our” own military has conducted training exercises where they imagined the bad guys were “eco-terrorists.” This would be silly if it weren't so oppressive. Not convinced? Let's compare atrocities; BP spilled millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf vs. eco-terrorists once burnt down a ski resort under construction in Vail (and gays haven't done anything as far as I know). There's no comparison of the damage done. The “eco-terrorists” damages were pathetically insignificant compared to the corpo-terrorists. And for some crazy reason Homeland Security goes after the resistance? Face it, this is what “boot in the face” oppression looks like. But the worst of it lets us know where some part of the Department of Homeland Security is actually headed. The Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security has spied on environmental groups and shared that information with the very corporations the environmental groups were united against.

It looks like The Department of Homeland Security doesn't have to be privatized after all.

Our” own government agency has functioned as a corporate spy against our own citizens.

Yes, corporate spying can also be oppressive. Remember when health insurance corporations spied on your life's records to find some excuse to claim you had a pre-existing condition – so that they wouldn't have to pay your medical bills. Wait a minute, paying you medical bills is just what you'd been paying your insurance companies for years to do. Moreover, they never had to give you a refund (for services not rendered). It must sure pay well for an insurance company to just take payments and not have to insure people. Oppressive. Yes. But we fixed that. At least for now.

None of this is stuff that cannot be fixed. It won't be easy. But it just keeps getting worse until we do fix it... until we fix it all – at once. Because this problem is systematic.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No Microchip Implant Needed

A couple of years ago, I watched Alex Jones talk (on the right-leaning conspiracy website about microchip implants.

Supposedly, all the banks want to go to a cashless society, so that they can have total control over a nation's (or even the world's) money. And through the use of implanted microchips; a person's health records, security clearance records, citizenship records, and of course bank records could be with them at all times. No need for cash. Though quite convenient, and in many ways quite desirable; these microchips would also be quite hackable. In fact, Alex Jones was convinced that this would be the final step in how the powers-that-be intended to take total control over us.

It sounded a little far-fetched.

The key point about all this was that these microchip implants would become so indispensable that those who had control over them would have enormous control over your fate.

Imagine if some company were poisoning your local water/air/food supply. You protest. You your protests get heard. You anger the wrong people, and they shut off your microchip implant... If your link to the electronic world were shut down, it would be like being excommunicated from a cashless economy. Beep. Instant homelessness – begging for food.

Wow! Pretty scary. But what's really scary is the banks don't need a microchip implant to do it.

We just saw the big banks refuse to do business with Wikileaks – right after an announcement that the next leaks would be about leaked banking documents.

Beep. Wikileaks has been excommunicated from the Internet economy.

No trials. No charges. Nothing other than Julian Assange made them angry. Now that's power. But it's not democratic power. It's not power of the rule of law. It's not even power of a higher moral authority. It's just raw power. And they intend to use it. They just did. And if it succeeds, everyone will know what can be done to them if the choose to dissent.

What Alex Jones feared most, we now have on the Internet.

If we don't challenge this now, no one will ever again be capable of telling the truth about the banks on the Internet – and expect to make a living.

...We need a hacker's bank.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Well, here it is Christmas season again, and I'll bet the “big profit” pundits are out there getting the right wing-nuts all riled up about the “war on Christmas” again. From my point of view, it seems impossible anyone would believe this nonsense propaganda. But apparently, some do.

There is no war on Christmas. I should know. I'm supposed to be one of the people at war with Christmas. But that's the furthest thing from my mind. There are parties at Christmas. There are celebrations. People get together with old friends and family. I wouldn't want to miss that. This is what has made the Winter Holiday season so popular – since long before Christianity even existed.

I'm not actually a Christian, so I might not celebrate like Christians, but I'm willing to celebrate right along with them. There is no war on Christmas. If anything, we just want to include New Years, Hanuka, Winter Solstice, and whatever other excuse we can to party and get presents.

So, what war is there? Let's see: The wing-nuts are angry at the Left. (So, what's new?) Yes. There is a war. It's a war on the Left.

Think about it. Who are the victims here? Those “poor” Christians, who can't force everyone else to believe like they do? Or the non-Christians, who, even though they play along with the Christmas celebrations; are depicted as depraved psychos trying to destroy Christmas.

There is definitely a war. It's a covert war on the Left. And it is much more than a propaganda war to make the Left look unreasonable (like the war on Christmas).

There is literally a war on the Left in America.

This war is so ingrained into our society that most of us don't even realize that it's even there. This war has been going on for so long that none of us remember a time when there wasn't a war on the Left. (And part of that war is to frame the Left as a bunch of radical atheists.)

The “big profit” pundits have tried to frame this as a war on the Right. But let's consider the blatantly obvious.

Where is the Right's equivalent to:

  • Martin Luther King

  • John and Robert Kennedy

  • John Lennon

  • Malcom X

  • Senator Paul Wellstone

  • the peaceful Left-wing demonstrators who were shot down at Kent State

  • the peaceful Left-wing demonstrators who so many times have been beaten, gassed, arrested, and treated like radicals – or even terrorists

  • the peaceful Left-wing demonstrators who have been forced to protest in far removed zones

  • the peaceful Left-wing demonstrations that never get reported (when far smaller Right wing demonstrations, such as those of the tea party, get front page news)

And where are the Left's equivalents to:

  • McCarthyism

  • the private army's of for-profit “security” who violently suppressed early unions

  • the drug war

  • the massive Homeland Security crackdown on eco-“terrorists”

  • the U.S. prison populations that are the highest per capita in the world

  • the mass media's constant propaganda attacks on the Left

And add to this, we must consider:

  • the Left is being taxed unmercifully to pay for wars we don't support

  • the Left is being taxed unmercifully to pay for laws we don't support

  • the Left is being taxed unmercifully to support the greedy among the rich (who have essentially made us all wage slaves)

  • some "Americans" have millions (or even billions) of dollars in wealth received from tax dollars, while they pay little in taxes.
  • millions of unhappy Americans have been effectively neutralized by big pharma drugs
  • millions of Americans are being held in prisons for victimless crimes
  • the Internet has just been privatized by the Obama FCC
  • America's election controls have been gutted by the "Supreme" Court
  • and though the Real Left (not the "moderate" Left) hasn't been in political power since President Jimmy Carter, the Left still get's blamed for all our problems

There is no war on Christmas.

There is a war on the Left.

For the most part, the powers-that-be have won this covert war. But only because the good people of America haven't accepted the oppression for what it really is.

It's time to take notice of the War on the Left.

We're Americans too.

And just because we don't always agree with the powers-that-be doesn't mean we're always wrong.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Who Created Creationism?

I'm not against Christianity.

I'm against the manipulation of Christians for political aims.

I'm against some “Christian” talking-head claiming that the most recent catastrophe, no matter how unrelated, is because everyone in his Church, in the Nation, or on the Planet hasn't done exactly what he's ordered them to (with the authority of God).

I'm against (total sell-out corporatist) politicians (such as Senator James Inhofe and Senator Tom Coburn) taking advantage of the gullibility of Fundamentalist Christians.

I'm against ignorance – because ignorance leads to misery.

So, it's time to shed some light on the subject. It's time to free some minds. It's time to confront the evil.

The Bible isn't literally true. The writers of the Bible told us so. Yes, it's in the Bible. In fact, you don't have to read more than the first few pages. The writers of the Bible wanted us know. And they let us know right away.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not claiming that the Bible is fiction. What I am claiming is that the Bible is often being misinterpreted for personal gain.

For example; Creation. There is nothing in the Bible that claims Evolution is false – if one reads Genesis as allegory. And if one reads Evolutionary Theory closely, there is nothing within it that claims there is no God. Which is why many Christian Religions have no problem accepting both.

However, there are a number of Fundamentalist Christian “leaders” who want us to believe that the Bible is literally word for word true. My first question to these aspiring religious rulers is; why? Why is it so important that every word in the Bible be literally true? The answer is obvious – and political. So that every word that comes out of their mouths holds the literal unquestionable weight of God. Don't even think of questioning what they say.

Tyrants have envied the power of the Church. This is why, in the past, Church and State have fused to form some of the most tyrannical powers in history. One thing we should never forget is that no organization is above reproach.

As we all know, these fundamentalist Christian “leaders” are not Gods. They are fallible humans, just like us. And their biggest fallacy is they crave power. (They wouldn't be where they are if they didn't.) And in order to get that power, they say what works to get them more power. What works for getting more power is the illusion of perfection. What works for having more power is the illusion that they have all the answers.

Personally, I wouldn't really care – if their actions didn't effect me. But they do. These Fundamentalist “leaders” would rather ignore science than do the right things.

Science is humanity's best interpretation of how our world functions. You may pray before you take a flight, but you wouldn't hire your minister to build the airplane. You want someone who knows Science. (And consider this; prayer may keep you from crashing, but it won't get you up in the air.)

This is Science we're talking about. And if people ignore some science; they're more likely to ignore other, even more critical science issues. We all realize that there can be horrible consequences for not facing reality. For example; when it comes to climate change, America now has the least logical political leadership in the World. (Even Muslims accept the reality of Global Warming. (Sorry Muslims. But it was just too good a jab to pass up.))

Why in the world would any caring observant leader wish to deny science – which simply relies on logical conclusions based upon overwhelming evidence? Why? The answer is simple; power.

If the Bible isn't literally true, then they can't claim ultimate authority.

As I stated earlier, not one phrase of Evolutionary Theory makes any statement about the existence of God. That's right, in one way this is all just a great big non-issue.

Let me say that once again; Evolution and God can coexist.

What Evolutionary Theory does, however, is show that the Creation story in the Bible isn't literally accurate. In other words, here is proof that every word of the Bible isn't literally true.

So, what's a power hungry Fundamentalist Christian “leader” supposed to do? Well, definitely not concede some of his power.

What it appears Fundamentalist “leaders” are saying is; “The Bible can't be wrong, Science must be.”

What more rational people hear is; “My interpretation of the Bible can't be wrong, the Universe must be.”

What I hear is; “Don't listen to those other people, just listen to me.”

But what does the Bible say?

Surprisingly, the authors of the Bible were very clear on this – they're not sure.

Genesis 1:27 states that God made man and woman together on the sixth day, after making the animals

Genesis 2:19 states that God made the animals between man and woman

Genesis 2:21-22 implies that God made woman sometime after the seventh day

Quite blatantly, the stories of Genesis 1 and 2 are two separate stories of Creation – that don't quite agree.

Why the contradictory stories? Simple, the compilers of the Bible didn't know which story was more true. So, they added them both. This wasn't the only story told twice in the Bible.

Those who wrote the Bible were just people too. Whether they were inspired by God or not, this is their story. They weren't exactly sure how Creation happened, so they left it up for us to decide.

Allow me to emphasize this; the authors and compilers of the Bible weren't sure about the specifics of Creation. They just wrote down the Creation stories that they had heard. And they wrote down two contradictory stories of Creation – ultimately to remind us that there was still work to be done to fully understand how we came to be.

Is the Bible wrong?

I don't think that's the right question.

(In fact, I don't think that's the right question to ask about all Religions.)

The best questions should be;

what can we learn from the Bible?

And; what can we learn from the Universe?

This is what the best Christian Leaders focus on.

The truth.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

WikiLeaks Isn't The Problem

The “for profit” mass media is on a feeding frenzy again. They've gotten together with the “flag waving” mob rulers to accuse an Australian of being a traitor to America. (Of course, since he's a Australian, that law doesn't apply.)

The American mass media has been endlessly debating whether Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks, is a terrorist, a spy, or a hero. This is a distraction.

WikiLeaks has been the story. But it is the leaks that are the real news.

Now, before we get to the real news, allow me to address a couple of accusations that have been made.

  • They say; “American lives have been endangered.” Maybe. But nobody has died as a result of the leaks. If someone had, we never would have heard the end of it. The right wing mob would have been calling for murder charges. No lives have been lost. Which makes the endangerment argument sound rather hollow.

  • Julian Assange has been accused of rape – a by a woman who has ties to the CIA. These sure look like trumped up charges to me.

  • The flag waving fake Newt Gingrich has accused Julian Assange of being an “information terrorist”. For what? Revealing the truth? I'm not familiar with that kind of terrorist. And of all people, Newt Gingrich; the man who outed CIA operative Valarie Plame (with definite endangerment of American lives consequences).

I'm not going so far as to say WikiLeaks did the right thing. But that isn't really what bothers me. What bothers me is why is it so important that, in a supposedly open society, these leaks are so important?

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has stated that the practical impact of the leaks in terms of security and compromised diplomacy is negligible. So, what's the big deal?

It appears that someone doesn't want Americans to know the truth.

And what is the truth? Maybe you should look for yourself. I did.

I checked into a document about Haiti.

I knew there had been some fishy stuff going on in Haiti when popularly elected President Aristide was removed from office in 2004. (“Kidnapped” in his words – by U.S. forces.) For two years after that, an unelected official ran Haiti. And in 2006, Rene Preval was elected president of Haiti.

The leaked document I read was a response to a call for a comprehensive assessment of President Preval. Nobody was going to die from this information getting out. However, the assessment was embarrassing. Not so much because it said unflattering things about President Preval, but because of America's attitude towards Haiti.


Preval's … reflexive nationalism, and his disinterest in managing bilateral relations in a broad diplomatic sense, will lead to periodic frictions as we move forward our bilateral agenda. Case in point, … He is likely to be tempted to frame his relationship with Venezuela and Chavez-allies in the Hemisphere in a way that he hopes will create a competitive atmosphere as far as who can provide the most to Haiti.”

President Preval wants the most for Haiti? How could he?

And that Hugo Chavez and his allies - grrrr... by the way, how do you become overwhelmingly popularly re-elected dictators?

One more thing; what the hell is a bilateral agenda? Why don't these bureaucrats speak English? Deniability, of course. So, I looked it up. It has to do with Free Trade Agreements. For example; “Bilateral free trade agreements are seen by the agricultural biotechnology industry as an important conduit for spreading genetically modified organisms around the world. … and locking governments into even tougher standards to ensure expanded profit margins and monopoly control.”

So, let me get this straight: Back in 2007, the President of Haiti, Rene Preval wanted what was best for Haiti (the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere)... and this was seen as a potential problem for the United States.

No wonder they keep trying to distract us from the real news.

...Oh, by the way; don't forget World Press Freedom Day!

(Sorry, that's just freedom for the "legitimate" for-profit mass media press - controlled by the powers that be.)

You can celebrate by downloading all those leaked documents.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Is The Top Dawg A Blue Dog?

So here we are, watching the lame duck session of Congress making a last ditch effort to pass the majority Democrat agenda before the Republicans take over in January.

And what are they talking about? An Energy Bill? An Immigration Bill? Nope. Tax cuts for the rich. What a disappointment. And who's right behind this “compromise?” None other than President Obama.

It has to make you wonder. Is Barack Obama a closet blue dog Democrat? And if so, does he have a choice?

Actually, in a way he does not have a choice. If we wish to save our Democracy, we have to do something about the growing inequality of our society. This next graph says it all. This graph should be etched upon the minds of every American. This is the most important economic information we have in determining our Democracy's future.

America is splitting into two different Americas. The super-rich are getting richer; while the rest of us are paying for it - and being left to fight over the scraps. If this continues, our Democracy will not survive.

If this growing inequality continues; what we will have is a tiny fraction of our population living like kings/prisoners inside their gated communities, surrounded by armies of privatized paramilitary forces – with the talented population of Americans working like slaves and the rest of the population treated like human garbage.

Needless to say, this won't be popular. If this growing inequality continues, most of us are either going to end up underpaid or not paid at all. To continue this oppression, one has to expect those in power to create a Police State. And we obviously can't expect our elections to end up being fair. Because if future elections were fair, the overwhelming number of poor would immediately elect people to change this. They would elect people who would do the obvious. They would elect people who would raise taxes on the rich and share that wealth with everyone else.

Most of us want to be rich. Consequently, nobody I know wants to eliminate the rich. But neither do we want to be slaves to the rich – or human refuse to the rich.

So, if we keep our Democracy, eventually some politicians are going to have to say; “ENOUGH!!!

These politicians may not initially raise taxes. They may try to fix loopholes in the tax system. They may try to turn off the flood of subsidies to rich companies. But eventually, they will have to stop the widening gap between the rich and the poor. And the easiest way for a government to accomplish that is with taxes.

Of course, everything I have just pointed out has already happened – to some extent. We have already lost some of our democracy. The 2010 election has proven to us that the rich can still buy the gullible. The “Supreme” Court has determined that elections should not be fair. We have more Americans in prison per capita than almost every other country on the planet. We are in a state of perpetual war. The places the rich don't dare tread in America (for fear of crime) are getting steadily larger. And now the Republicans are talking about privatizing parts of Homeland Security.

Obama could have done so much more. Or could he?

The Republicans in Congress have threatened to vote NO on everything until they get their tax breaks for the rich.

We really need to think about this. What does this threat really mean? Moreover, who benefits – and how?

What it sounds like to me is the powers that be are threatening to destroy America if they don't get their way. That's right – they've threatened to DESTROY AMERICA!!!

Think about it. If the Legislative Branch of the United States were to shut down indefinitely, what would happen? Think about it. What would happen? It doesn't take a PhD to figure out that it wouldn't be good. And yet, something very similar to this has already been happening in the Senate for the past four years. The Republicans have been filibustering like there is no tomorrow. And guess what? It's starting to look like there won't be a tomorrow!

The American people are angry.

The American people are scared.

The American people are slowly giving up on our Government.

Some people may want this.

Sadly, there are very likely people (who call themselves Americans), who don't care what happens to America. If America were to fail tomorrow, they would only get richer. We saw this with the fall of the Soviet Union.

Many of those who were in power in the Soviet Union are still in power. And many of them are richer than they ever were in the Soviet Union. What do you think some the powers that be here must have concluded by that?

There must be powerful people in this country (who call themselves Americans) who see opportunity in the collapse of America. Evidence of their existence is in the behavior of the Republicans in Congress. The Republicans are essentially exclaiming that either we do things their way or they will shut down the Legislative Branch of Government – and let the whole system collapse.

Either we let their super-rich “clients” have everything they want, or America will collapse and their “clients” will get everything they want anyway.

That doesn't give President Obama very many options.

However this threat has a soft underbelly. If the American people still believe in what America stands for – and are willing to stand themselves; America is much less likely to fall.

So far, far to many of us have been willing to sit back in our sofas with a beer and watch TV to see if anybody else is going to do this for us. And guess what? The corporate owned (rich people owned) mass media hasn't reported anything – even if it has happened.

We have a choice. We can wait until we don't have a home for our sofa and our TV – and no money for our beer – and then riot in the streets. Or, we can organize to push (and back-up) President Obama and the remaining Democrats in Congress to do the right things... But we don't have to do it their way.

We have two years until the next election. In the last two years, the Tea Party was created and reinvigorated the Republican Party. We saw how it was done. The Left can do the same thing – only better. Because we can create a Party with integrity. We can reinvigorate the Democratic Party.

...Or, we can sit on our sofas and watch all the Democrats turn into Blue Dogs.

If you know of any third Party which has the potential to become the Left's answer to the Tea Party, please let me know. The co-opted Right has failed us. What's left of the Left has failed us. Only the people of America can save America. And if we do it with honesty, integrity, and the overwhelming will to make a truly better world; almost everyone will be glad to join us.

Liberty and Justice for ALL!

Friday, December 03, 2010

SNWA's (and Nevada's) Best Option

Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) is in a politically difficult predicament. They have been forced to mismanage Nevada's water supply by local powers that be – under water laws that were written in a different age. They are now stretched beyond their financial capacity to maneuver for water they won't need for decades – if ever.

However, there is a window of opportunity for them to do the right thing, get what they want in the long run, and supply Southern Nevada with plenty of moderately priced water – without having to take the blame for wasting Las Vegans' money and Nevadans' resources.

The Rural Nevada/Great Basin SNWA watergrab is expected to cost somewhere between 3 billion dollars and 20 billion dollars. SNWA simply doesn't have the money. But they do have cheaper alternatives.

The Yuma Desalination Facility has shown us that desalination is a very cost effective way for Southern Nevada to get more water from the Colorado River. The price of desalination has dropped precipitously in the past 20 years. And it has become obvious that if SNWA were not encumbered by their commitments to take water from Rural Nevada/Great Basin, desalination would be a no-brainer.

SNWA could, as needed, incrementally build off shore desalination plants off the coast of California and trade that water (with California) for more water from the Colorado River. The costs would be in the millions, rather than the billions for the watergrab pipeline network and the vast number of wells (required to distribute the damage in Rural Nevada).

However, SNWA has already committed over 70 million dollars towards the Great Basin water grab – by purchasing vastly overpriced farms and ranches in Spring Valley. Also, SNWA has already spent millions drilling wells all over Rural Nevada – and millions on PR convincing Las Vegans that they are so desperate that taking water from the rest of Nevada is the only option. Politically, there is no turning back – no matter how bad those decisions were and no matter how much more money will be wasted. Unless, of course, there is no more money.

The reality is conditions have changed. Desalination costs have dropped and the Great Basin is facing the same drought conditions as Las Vegas. Abundant water from the ocean has become cheaper than scarce water from the desert.

The only rational thing to do is follow the cheapest, most plentiful water.

But politics and Nevada water law are not rational. Nevada water law effectively states; “first in use, first in right.” Which is why Las Vegas applied for Rural water rights over 20 years ago. If they hadn't of applied for the water, somebody else would have – and Las Vegas would have lost the opportunity for that water forever.

What Nevada water law has inadvertently created is a water rush – much like the gold rush of 1849 – but this time it's municipalities vs. corporations rushing to take as much as they can.

Since Nevada water law so conveniently defined away Native American water use as not really use, the water is there for the taking. All the water grabbers have to do is come up with some “use.” Which means, here in the real world, Nevada water law effectively reads; “the first to waste the water can have it for free.”

So, Las Vegas had to apply for Rural Nevada water rights – or lose them. And then they had to drill wells, or it wouldn't look like they were serious. And then they had to buy ranches, because that's where most of the water is. And then they had to lie to Las Vegans about how desperately they need water – or the whole house of cards would fall.

So now, SNWA is in a predicament. Las Vegas isn't growing like it used to – and it may never again. Consequently, SNWA doesn't have nearly the money to throw around they used to. Which means there is a serious risk that those water rights they have applied for in Rural Nevada just might be slipping away.

SNWA is not looking invincible any more. SNWA has lost two major court cases involving the watergrab. And then, of course, there's this little matter of proving to the Nevada State Engineer that they can actually “use” the water – when Las Vegas isn't growing any more... Oh, and one more thing. Possibly the most important point of all: The people of the Las Vegas Valley just might figure out that they are being scammed. The Las Vegas Valley is close to being full. Much of the water from the watergrab won't likely go to the Las Vegas Valley. The big secret about the watergrab is that Las Vegans are being conned into paying for water for other communities. That's right. The people of Las Vegas just might figure out that they are being conned into spending billions of dollars to provide water for elsewhere. This whole scheme is just about to blow up in SNWA's face.

So, what's a quasi-municipality to do?

It's too early for SNWA to privatize. Nevadans would figure out the scam.

It's too late to rely on desalination. Las Vegans would realize how much money has been wasted.

And it's too risky to just keep plowing ahead. Besides, SNWA simply can't afford the costs.

So, why not do the right thing?

What Nevada really needs are more responsible, sustainable, and respectful water laws. Right now, Nevada water law just slices up the pie between those powerful enough to take it. This is no way to manage water in the desert.

  • Nevada is acting like nobody in the future will need water. Where is the slice of pie for future generations?

  • Nevada is acting like the environment doesn't matter. Which is about the stupidest thing anyone could possibly think. Without an Environment, there will be NO Economy.

  • Nevada is acting like the Natives who have lived here sustainably for thousands of years have gone extinct. It's as if Nevada water law was written with the intent of no one ever living here sustainably again.

  • Nevada is acting like craps are more important than crops. I'm not against gaming, but let's face it; gaming doesn't create anything. The recent economic downturn should have taught us that gaming should not be the cornerstone of an economy.

  • Nevada is acting like only the cities matter. But in a healthy functioning Democratic/Republic, it is the rights of the minority that determine the viability of the Democracy.

  • Nevada is acting like tourism in Las Vegas is more important than tourism in the rest of the State. The Rural water grabs are just big economies cannibalizing smaller ones. Nothing is really gained, while Nevada loses its economic diversity.

  • Nevada is pretending that the world won't notice. There is a very real risk of a worldwide informal boycott of Las Vegas over the watergrab.

There is a critical need to rewrite Nevada water law. And SNWA has the power, influence, and the backing of Las Vegas to reform Nevada water law.

So, what's in it for SNWA?

They don't have to build the watergrab pipeline until they desperately need it. And they can feel safe that others won't take the water away from them.

How's this?

The primary goal of Nevada water law should be long term sustainability. This is the desert. We don't have that much water. And what ground water we do take will immediately kill the wildlife that depends upon it. So, it only makes sense that we save as much as we can for all of those who cannot vote yet (because they haven't been born yet), those who do not have as many votes (because they live where the water is), and those who cannot ever vote (because they are plants and animals).

Nevada water law should make it more difficult to take “unused” water from the deserts. Not that municipalities, such as SNWA, shouldn't be able to apply for future rights to the water. In fact, they should. And if there ever becomes a time when those municipalities are literally desperate, they could have first option to export it.

Even though most of the Lake Mead/Colorado River panic is hype, there is a remote possibility that the Colorado River could dry up. However, the worst way to deal with this is to help Southern Nevada to continue to grow until it consumes all the the Colorado River allotment and the Rural Nevada watergrab water... If the Colorado ceases to flow, there will be no other options but to do without. At least with water saved underground in Rural Nevada, Southern Nevada would have something to turn to in the worst case scenario.

We need to remember: The Earth is in one way like a bank. It has resources that have been saving up for millions of years. You have never, and will never hear a financial advisor say to you to go pull out all your money from your bank and spend it as fast as you can. And you have never, and will never hear a business advisor say to let the bank robbers just take what they want. Taking everything now is not planning.

Nevada water law needs to be more responsible – because some people need laws to keep them responsible.

It's up to us. Do we want a water rush, water grabs, Rural devastation and displacement, followed by extreme water scarcity and outrageous water prices? Or do we want sensible water use, responsible growth, and a sustainable future with a healthy environment?

SNWA can have what they really want – by doing the right thing. Southern Nevada can have water banked for future use (if ever there were a time of legitimate desperate need). Southern Nevada can have cheaper water with desalination – without the embarrassment of the cancellation of the watergrab (it would just be postponed indefinitely). And SNWA would look like the environmental champions they should be by being the force behind the rational reform of Nevada water law.