Alliance for the Common Good

The organizations pose for a picture as Native People speak.

Within our highly stratified society there exists two trends inside the activist movement: those who advocate for revolution and those who advocate for reform. Sad to say that despite over a decade of Imperialist war, corporate profiteering and increasing levels of income disparities, the latter trend is still predominant. This is not surprising, of course. It takes time for any kind of alternative to present itself and develop.

On the eighth of January the beginning of a possible alternative, the fetus, took shape in the form of the Alliance for the Common Good. Highly reformist and class collaborationist, the alliance was a self-described united front. Environmental, anti-war,  pro-youth, pro-queer and more were represented. The goal of the alliance is to promote an agenda which benefits “one and all” or, as otherwise stated, the common good.

Coordinating with the indigenous population of Maine the organizers of the rally stood in solidarity with the Natives and the “Idle No More” movement; locales from the Penobscot Tribe spoke and sang native songs before and after speakers bellowed slogans and brief speeches against the East-West Highway.

The chosen location for the first alliance rally was in the city of Augusta. Outdoor chanting and co-mingling outside of the state house soon developed into rekindling of friendships from the progressive past. I took part as well. Chatting with some Occupy colleagues, that encased a discussion on my facial fair and organic food preparation,   the atmosphere was warm and friendly. After chatting I wandered some to meet other activist friends and while doing so was ensconced by a reporter from the Free Press. After a brief interview as to why I was there, where I represented the Kasama Project, I listened to the first of many speeches prior to moving indoors.

Once indoors, and done with the lengthy security procedure, I snacked on a doughnut and waited for all the participants to file in. In short order (15 or so minutes) everyone was gathered. Songs began and the natives spoke. Hearing their wonderful chanting was what I considered the highlight of the day.

While there were other activities before my leaving, such as petitioning the newly returned legislators on various progressive causes, the kind woman who I relied on for transportation needed to leave early, so I couldn’t see how that turned out. Yet through it all the event was an auspicious start to what could be a bright future for progressive, and hopefully radical, activism.

Marriage Equality Won (2012)!

The results of the November 6th elections were truly stupendous. In all four of the battleground states where marriage equality was up to vote-Maine (where the nation’s first ever voter approval of gay marriage was accomplished), Maryland, Washington and Minnesota (where an anti-marriage equality measure was defeated)-all of these selections passed. Coupled with the re-election of a pro-gay president, the election of the first openly Lesbian member of Senate (Tammy Baldwin), and the upholding the Spanish supreme court in protecting marriage equality in their own nation, the hatemongers over at NOM (National Organization for Marriage) must be in a dismal mood.

The historic victories we have won, however, have shown not only America but indeed the whole world of our resolve. All across the nation volunteers donated their time and energy to make what we have won a reality. While there is still much work to be done all over (especially in terms of anti-discrimination work) it is important to remember that our task now becomes to defending our gains and pressing forward with complete liberation.

I want to thank each and every brother-in-arms who made this wonderful day possible. Without every one of you knocking on doors, calling, emailing, and talking with your friends and family this day would not have been possible. To all of the millions of voters, activists, and supporters out there, I salute you!

Stagnation: Military Spending and Maine Society

Below you will find the transcript of a speech I am to give later this month in the state capital.

– – – – – – – – –

I’m here today on a simple mission: that mission is to tell all of you of the obsolete and deceitful nature of the 1%. You see, the 1% would like us to believe it is in our best interest to spend billions of dollars annually on a defense budget. They would like students to believe that it is in the student’s best interest to maintain funding occupation soldiers’ salaries; they want us to believe that we can ‘suffice’ without quality healthcare, education, civil servants, and decent infrastructure. Yet, most of all, they would like society at large to swallow the ultimate lie: that maintenance of the Imperialist Murder Machine, i.e. The Military Industrial Complex, is needed for our safety.

Such words are blasphemous to the truth. We, the 99%, need a military in the same way that hell needs more fire. No, we do not need to spend any amount, let along such obscene proportions, on war. Here in the Great State of Maine, the taxpayers are gouged of 1.3 billion dollars annually. This drain is directed towards the military defense budget. A budget which is so over bloated that our nation’s budget alone dwarfs that of the rest of the world’s-combined![1]

That total amounts to almost $800,000,000! However, this tally doesn’t include the amount of money spent financing expansionist wars, “donations” to armed factions sympathetic to U.S interests, and the salaries of “fighting men.” Instead, this marks only the expenditures for the Navy, Air Force, Marine and Army branches; the strain of them purchasing fighter jets, tanks, battleships and submarines, small arms, protective gear, and other vital domination equipment. When one adds together this “hidden” waste the sum sky rockets; total war in Iraq, and Afghanistan, covert operations in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, as well as the continued defense of client states Israel, South Korea, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, the true total, while breathtaking,  is nothing less than four trillion dollars.

Hear that? That was trillion with a “t.” For the same amount over 530, 000 children could receive low- income healthcare, 15.2 million elementary school teachers, 17.4 million firefighters, over 939 million households could receive renewable wind-power electricity, and over 131 million college students, could all receive funding for an entire year!

According to a recent CNN article[2] the average salary for an active U.S army solider is steadily rising. Once upon a time the salary for a solider in Afghanistan was a “scant” $600,000. Now, however, the cost has risen to a whopping $1.4 million! The reason for the increase? Nothing less than a reallocation of personnel to other potential hot zones; less soldiers in the Middle East means the base cost for those troops can be allocated to new fiscal areas. Think of this as a geo-political take on ‘hide-and-seek.’ You hide the costs, and then seek them out.

The ‘Powers that be’ needs the young to believe that without an armed force breathing down their necks at all times society as we know it will collapse. Masterful propaganda has made our modern world one of such sharp distortions that even breaking away and glimpsing the truth is a daring feat. Knowledge, like facts and data, is as hard to find as a caringly affordable doctor.

Seeking out valuable data is something the average American and Mainer needs to be proficient at for otherwise nearly no one would have access to healthcare. As Many as 1 in 5 Mainers[3] live in rural areas, and are unable to even locate a healthcare provider; let alone pay the exuberant post-procedure costs. With Maine Care being slashed left and right, it is becoming increasingly impossible to afford vital healthcare. When 12 year old Deamonte Driver of Maryland died of an absessed tooth many were shocked. How could someone so young die of an easily curable condition? Well, as shocking as it might seem, the reason was because Deamonte’s family was hard pressed to find a dental provider which took Medicare. By the time they did locate on such professional it was already too late; irreversible rot had already sealed his fate.[4]

Such tragedies are commonplace occurrences under our capitalist regime. Where the bourgeoisie demand horrific sums of resources to be dedicated to the systematic murder of Arabs and Muslims, here at home those same indolent amounts could be instead spent on-gasp- the people! Just how many people?  If you are to refer to Children receiving low in-come healthcare, than one could provide over 584,000 children with the necessary healthcare for over an entire year!

Yet, under our current system such people are disregarded as lazy, underachievers because of their socio-economic class. A designation labeled onto them despite rigorous efforts at improving their lot through education. This task would be easier if working class and young people were actually able to access higher education.

With the average tuition for a single year of higher education costing on average over $30,000 few people can justify such expenses without all-inclusive help from charitable entities or scholarships. Taking this cost further, when compared against the annual amount spent on war material, we could give scholarships to over 135,000 college students; scholarships which would ensure them for a whole year of higher education.

To me personally it seems the wealthy origlichly is interested in keeping a stranglehold on their powerbase; to allow in those filthy commoners would be a grievous affront to everything that is decent. With more people than ever expressing an interest in returning to school in order to circumvent the great recession, more and more are finding the costs just too high. This societal contradiction reminds me of a quote by Howard Zinn: “Education has always inspired fear among those who want to keep the existing distributions of power and wealth as they are.” A very true statement when the conservative elite try their damndest to bar low-income families from the quality education they deserve.

This is what the 1% fears: well informed citizens realizing that the current order is rigged to favor the rich. And it most certainly does the rich for if it didn’t than perhaps our cities infrastructure wouldn’t resemble the nations which we are currently bombing back to the Stone Age.  In 2008 the Maine section of the American Society of Civil Engineers released their report card on Maine’s infrastructure. The results? Not good, in fact, the report stated that Maine had barely received a C-, a grade which is only slightly above “Poor.” In the report’s own words the infrastructure’s condition was “mediocre.” [5]

Ah, mediocre, a fitting word to attribute to an administration which views legalizing prostitution[6] as a more pressing concern that providing for its citizens. In here we return to the penultimate cancer, the most devious lie that the ruling class cannot afford to maintain infrastructure, or give people education or healthcare because money must be spent on building a strong military. They want everyone to be gullible so they can continue making their blood money. The military industrial complex, in other words, is their true servant.

The Military Industrial Complex exists for two reasons and two reasons only: 1) To start wars and 2) For capitalists to make profits. That’s it! The government controls anywhere between 700-1000 military bases worldwide, bases which they use in order to dictate the world stage of affairs[7]. Each base must be filled with troops, small arms, ammunition, offensive and defensive weapon systems, logistical necessities, and food. Obviously this is all expensive and is indicative of only a single base.[8]

From here the warmongers wait until the politicians can hammer other governments into accepting unwanted diplomatic deals (deals which hurt their economy while propping up ours).What If the governments do not like having bases on their soil? What if the social tide turns against those who allow the bases to be kept? Well, usually the result is either armed conflict or revolution. Often violent and prolonged, the U.S could swiftly bring an end to any such upheaval by simply ‘up and leaving,’ yet they won’t because there is no profit to be made from peace.

When you are an industrialist the military becomes your best friend. Nearly anything you produce can be harnessed for them. With this in mind more and more businesses produce with the military in mind: why produce pencils and blankets when bombs and infer-red lasers are so much more lucrative? Why donate to charities and help improve an unstable nation when destabilizing it not only gives way for future “investment opportunities” but also for those juicy military contracts?

Such implicit Imperialism is why the U.S has never done anything altruistic in the world; this is why Sierra Leone was devastated by an 11 year civil war which killed over 50,000 people (Blood Diamonds)[9], this is why over the course of decades over ten million Koreans and Vietnamese were massacred (Anti-communism), why nearly a third of East Timor was wiped out in brutal genocide (Arm Sales)[10] , why Iranian democracy was overthrown and replaced with a theocracy (geo-political relations), why Mexico has only half of her territory (Manifest Destiny), and why Guatemala, Cuba, Panama, The Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Oman, Laos, Chile, El Salvador, Angola, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Honduras, Grenada, Bosnia, Croatia, Sudan, Colombia and more, all have felt the wrath of the Military Industrial Complex’s funding of right-wing rebels and allied interests. Untold billions- wasted! Untold lives squandered[11].

This is the reality of life in Maine so as long as we continue to allow the para-fascist 1% to dictate our future. The 1% would desperately want everyone to believe the delusion they spread, the delusion about capitalism, about wealth distribution, and resource allocation, because they need all afraid of foes which do not exist; otherwise they lose their grip on power. They need all brainwashed into believing this manufactured fairytale about terrorists all while ignoring the fact the United States is the world’s biggest funder of actual terrorism. The truth is stark: we have no enemies; there is no all mighty Canadian Empire to our north, no land greedy Mexican Federation to the south, and no devious Cuban conspiracy in the ocean. We make our own future and if we are to create, as some here wish, a horizontal workers democracy, than what we must do is rise up and overthrow the 1%. Whether this uprising is peaceful or violent depends on the 1% and whether or not they retaliate with force. One way or another peace will be attainted.

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