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The State is a Condition

29 Jul

“The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another…”

Gustav Landauer

Have to pack and set up the Really Really Free Market in Olympia. Contracting other relationships, behaving differently toward one another? Can we really destroy the state by behaving differently?

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Tax Rate Facts

11 Jul

Washington Post has a story on tax rates.

I know that a lot of people will think that the low tax rates are a good thing, and they may be in a few ways, but these low tax rates translate into austerity political decisions, cuts in services, cuts to environmental protection, cuts to education, cuts in regulatory functions. The same folks who will cheer these low tax rates (even at the same moment that they complain about high taxes and advocate for more tax cuts) will also cheer the cuts in non-military governmental functions.

This is fine, I support free speech. I respect the right to espouse ideas, no matter how crazy they may be, but it is weird when working class and working poor, middle class folks start drinking this 1% koolaid. This is our task. Somehow we have to reach these folks and help them understand that our wildly expensive military adventures, drone murder program, kidnap and torture foreign policy are very destructive to our future as well as being morally indefensible. We have to help these folks understand that the 1% oligarchy are cooking the books as well as the globe with their planet for profit approach to the natural world.

We have to understand that taxes are necessary. Here is what George Washington had to say about taxes:

It is essential to bear in mind that toward the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue, there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.

George Washington, 1796

Here is a bit of the WAPO piece. I think the facts are important. If you have questions about tax revenue and trends, read this piece.

 

 

 

In 2009, Americans paid lowest tax rates in 30 years to federal government

 

By , Published: July 10

 

Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

A sharp decline in income — especially among the wealthiest Americans, who pay the highest tax rates — also played a role, according to the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Household income fell 12 percent on average from 2007 to 2009, with income among the top 1 percent of earners decreasing by more than a third

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Pos

 

 

 

(The Washington Post/Source: Congressional Budget Office) – Average federal tax rates

Ask the Right Question

23 Jun

Caught this on Juan Cole’s Informed Comment this morning.

Paul Jamiol cartoon

Black Bloc 101

11 Feb

Chris Hedges made a few waves with his recent piece describing the black bloc as the cancer in occupy.

click me pleaseI believe in diversity. I think diversity is a fundamental natural law of the universe. But I understand that human beings have a tidiness gene that makes us think that we can organize and be more efficient through suppression of diversity, by rejection of the natural order and diversity that constantly arises and evaporates back in to the order of chaos. Chaos is not merely disorder. There may be a level of order benefit and diversity in chaos that is not easily observed and is under-appreciated.

The black bloc tactic is something that arises from police violence toward non-violent protest and the willingness of society to choose order over the bedrock right to peacefully assemble and petition for redress of grievance.

Diversity of tactics and tolerance of the diversity of tactics is something that I embrace whole-heartedly. Things can go wrong. I have seen that. Things can go right. I have seen that as well. I am usually pleased to see a black bloc tactical option in a crowd of protesters. I believe Hedges could not be more wrong about the black bloc tactic.

Here is an interesting and informative piece in response to Hedges cancer article. I recommend that you read the piece if you don’t understand and appreciate the black bloc tactic or if you read the Hedges article and thought what he said made a lot of sense.

After you read the piece, you might want to look through the n + 1 zine that is carrying the piece. Looks like a pretty informative vehicle. A weapon of mass instruction. I am down with that. Thanks to my friend Elliot Stoller for bringing this piece to my attention.

The Power of Clicktivists! Really? Is there any power there?

15 Sep

Signed a petition this morning online through PDA to ask the super committee to save a trillion dollars by fixing Medicare Part D. The change requested would allow the Feds to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma instead of the current model. I haven’t studied this hard, but you don’t have to study much to know that the ability to negotiate prices is a good idea. It’s kind of free market stuff, isn’t it? Doesn’t the right love the power of the free market? Let’s see how far this thing goes. Senator Kyl has jumped off talking about savings from attacking Medicare fraud, but the CBO guy told him point blank, this approach does not address the deficit and tax changes needed.

I also responded to a request from the FCNL – Friends (quakers) Committee on National Legislation and sent the following letter to my Senator, Patty Murray:

I live in Chehalis, Wa and have been pleased to have you as my Senator.

In my lifetime I have watched the tax table leveled and it has had disastrous effects on the US economy and US politics. The well-to-do, the middle class, and the poor continue to pay their fair share. The “haves” and “have mores” as George Bush called them have had their tax burden greatly relieved and now we face a budget deficit that is a pretext for cutting essential government services that are important to the majority of Americans, but mean little or nothing to the have mores.

In addition to the tax structure tilted to the rich, there is a question of war profiteering and the failure to raise taxes to pay when this country goes to war as it has done too quickly in this century.

The Pentagon budget has doubled in the last 10 years–without even counting what our country has spent on the two wars. It now amounts to more than half of the money Congress appropriates to federal programs each year.

But the main problem is falling revenues and that related directly to the tax hatred and demagogery. A steep tax structure promotes investment in infrastructure, jobs and factories instead of second, third, and fourth homes for the captains of industry.

You are in a very difficult position. It seems you are the only woman on the Super Committee and perhaps this country’s needs more matriotism and less patriotism to turn it around. I send my thoughts to you with the prayer that you will stand larger than a single person on this committee and that you may turn the country in a new direction from your position.

Be strong, be well. Do wonderful things.

Sincerely,

I don’t have much time for this email activism, but I took a minute this morning. I am generally more directly involved in political action. I spend more time making signs and materials and engaging in political action than I do sending signing online petitions pleading for change in public policy. But I took a couple of minutes for this stuff this morning, mainly because FCNL asked me to take a minute.

The Friends, the Quakers, were the folks who ran the underground railroad moving enslaved humans to freedom when slavery was legal in part of our country. They probably wrote letters and signed petitions as well, but some of the friends of that era believed action was required.

We stand on the shoulders of giants. Will we stand? Do we stand for anything?

Which side are you on, boys and girls?

Be strong, be well, DO wonderful things.

News from the Stealth War Front

27 Aug

Wensday Media was asked if it could cover a meeting of Act For America (http://actforamerica.org/) in Chehalis on August 27th. We tried, but it was a hard slog. Here are some notes from the meeting and what they are thinking about:

A group of perhaps 30 people met to discuss their concern with a stealth war that is being waged against the United States. The group was entirely white, predominately male, and the average age is estimated to be 50+. I did not spot a single person who looked like they could be under 35 to 40 years of age.

It’s an interesting group who appear to share a concern about the the appointment and election of “devout muslims” to important government positions. There is also concern about devout muslim infiltration of the military and police forces. The speaker started with a recitation about the danger of the Muslim invasion and statement that when the Muslim population of an area increases beyond 25% that the Muslim population takes over, gets pushy and begins to implement Sharia Law. The speaker was quite clear that Sharia Law is meant to replace all constitutional law and is a completely different kind of law.

Act for America was reported to number about 170,000 people now across the United States with significant political influence through funding of a lobbyist in Washington DC who is knocking on the doors of the elected officials.

There was encouragement to make connections between Act for America and the Minutemen, the National Rifle Association and other groups with closely-aligned goals. American is under attack from radical Islam, from Iran, from Hamas. Europe is even worse, it can’t recover without a “shooting war” and that seems unlikely. There was some discussion that GOP candidate Mitt Romney just doesn’t get it. He has made comments in the debates that led some in this group to believe he does not see the Muslims as a threat to Constitutional law.

There was brief discussion of the threat of illegal immigration to the US, that we are under attack from many fronts, but the focus returned quickly to the threat of Hamas, Palestine and muslim extremists.

The speaker, Bill, was friendly, persuasive and articulate and made many clear statements about the threats we face, but the statements were striking and consistent in their lack of specifics. Statements about the implementation of Sharia law in communities in the US were not backed up with a single locale named where this has happened or is happening.

The group watched a video “Wall of Lies” on the territorial conflict between Israel and teh Palestinian people. This video was very well done, it was persuasive propaganda mixing current day footage of campus demonstrations for justice for Palestine, for boycotts of Israeli goods, with 50 and 60 year old quotes from Middle Eastern political leaders, with footage of Iranian demonstrations against the US and Israel and the inevitable footage of Adolph Hitler, the translation of Mein Kampf into Arabic and an attempt to establish some kind of axis of evil connection between the European Holocaust against the Jewish people and the current territorial conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people.

The meeting was well-organized, as was the speaker and the political material. The video was top shelf propaganda, well organized, edited and produced.

I am not sure how a person would go about opening a dialogue with this group to broaden their understanding of US/Israeli militarism, the influence and sway of US power in the regions of the world where US political leaders identify national security interests (I think these interests are indistinguishable from control of oil and mineral resources and the geopolitics of controlling those resources) and how strategic US interests invade the lives of other human beings on the planet. I would love to see this group and others like it exposed to a more rational analysis of Middle East politics from persons like Steve Niva, Peter Bohmer or Larry Mosqueda (to drop just a few names), but that exposure seems pretty unlikely.

Will post up some photos sometime soon, but they are pretty unremarkable.

We Can’t Live with Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power Plants

7 Aug

The annual peace walk to the Ground Zero Center in Bangor is wrapping up today with a talk by Dennis Kucinich at 6:30 pm. I was able to speak with Senji Kanaeda for a few minutes on July 31st and am finishing up a short video with Senji’s thoughts front and center.

I still have a little tweaking to do on the video, but it’s almost finished and I wanted to get this up. I am also using the video to publicize the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant event at Traditions on Monday, August 8th at 7 pm. We have to stop nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants. This is a road that leads nowhere.