One, Two, Three Brazils . . . One, Two, Three Egypts . . . One, Two, Three, Ten Million Edward Snowdens

I belong to a reading circle and one member has circulated an email noting the recent public protests and riots in Brazil, Egypt and elsewhere and asked with everything happening in the U.S. why aren’t Americans taking to the streets. I am attaching my response to his inquiry —

I think Lou makes a very good point and it has puzzled me as well. I recall once it was widely held that the American people would not tolerate unemployment levels exceeding 5%, and yet we have had such rates for years.

Then again, Social Security was once the third rail of politics and no one, Democrat or Republican would dare assault this program, and now we have a “Democratic” President willing to “reform” the program by cutting benefits.

Roe v Wade has been the law of the land for 40 years, and now any Legislature with a Wacko majority has no hesitation in closing women’s health clinics.

Increasingly, college, which had become a rite of passage for the middle class, has been priced beyond the capacity of middle-class and working-class people. If they do graduate, they do so with a debt hanging over them. Congress-critters AND their staffs have their loans forgiven while everyone else will be paying for life. The S & L executives who looted their own banks have had their debts forgiven but not student debtors. AIG took BILLIONS in Federal loans after having announced publicly that they would not be able to repay the loans, they were forgiven, but not students.

Union contracts for public employees that have been in place 70 years were easily annulled by a Koch-funded Governor and Legislature.

The Big Banks get money from the Feds for zero-to-one percent interest and students have to pay 6.8%.

There is an island of garbage the size of Texas floating in the Pacific.

There is a “dead zone” off the coast of Louisiana in which no marine life can live and it is the size of Connecticut. It is one of 170 such dead zones around the world, up from 90 ten years ago.

We went into war based on a lie, everybody knows it, and no one wants to discuss what Nuremberg clearly defined as a “war crime”.

The Courts have repeatedly ruled that the Espionage Act of 1917 is in violation of the Constitution. It was used but twice from 1917 to 2009, and six times since under Obama, the Peace Prize winner.

No President from Washington to Bush Junior has ever claimed the right to kill American citizens without trial, and yet Obama routinely fills out a “kill list”. Obama ordered the killing of a 16 year old American boy residing in an Arab country because his father was suspected of being a terrorist.

The polar ice cap is melting.

Fires are burning with such intensity in the West that the soil is scorched and unable to grow anything thereafter.

Monsanto “owns” much of the seed being used on farms in the U.S. and alters seed genes to claim a patent on life. What’s more the Monsanto bought Congress critters refuse to allow the seed, or the food produced, to be identified as GMO.

The Fukushima power plant released far more radiation into the atmosphere and the oceans than admitted and continues to do so. American sailors who had been ordered to the relief of the Japanese are now dying of radiation sickness which the VA refuses to acknowledge as service-related injuries.

A white man in Florida stalked a black teen even after being told by the police to desist, shot him “because he was afraid”, and is acquitted on the very same day that a black woman in Florida who shot a gun into the air to scare off an attacker is sentenced to 20 years in prison.

A black male born today has a greater probability of being imprisoned than college-educated.

The Supreme Court overturns a piece of legislation protecting voting rights passed with 100% and 90% majorities because in the Court majority’s opinion there is no evidence to support the legislative conclusion. The Court refuses to examine the documentation assembled by Congress supporting its decision.

One Wacko Governor in Michigan appoints local czars to takeover local governments, giveaway public assets, nullify contracts, and defund programs as well as invalidate open elections.

Men and women who volunteered for National Guard service and were then plucked up and sent overseas for repeated terms return home to find their jobs disappeared and claims for vet benefits denied.

In a country where Tea Partisans openly carry guns to rallies at the White House, unarmed peaceful protesters at “Occupy Wall Street” events are rushed by the police, beaten and gassed for standing in a public park.

The very same Congress which stripped food assistance claiming “we can’t afford it” passed a Multi-Billion subsidy for Corporate Farmers essentially guaranteeing their profits with taxpayer money, apparently we could afford this corporate welfare.

Our country spends more on its military than all of the rest of NATO together plus Russia plus China plus Iran plus India. The U.S. has bases or installations in 80-plus countries. The sun never sets on the American empire of bases globally.

Hedge Fund managers receive $ 10,000 an hour, pay the lowest taxes since 1920 and still want further tax cuts.

Everyone in our reading circle paid a higher portion of their incomes into the Social Security fund than did Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or Donald Trump and will collect less in public benefits than anyone in the top 1%.

Yes, why aren’t we in the streets? Our Government doesn’t represent us, our economic system isn’t broken, it’s “fixed” and fixed to the advantage of a select few, our environment is being despoiled, our air and water polluted, our food subject to experiments, our kids’ futures mortgaged for life to Banks and financial interests . . . And the list doesn’t end there, we have entered an age in which the varied crises are multiplying, intensifying and interconnecting. We are beset by a Confluence of Crises for which piece-meal fixes and Band-Aid applications are inadequate. Radical action (by which I mean action directed at the root of our problems) is no longer one option, it is the only option that has any chance of preserving anything reminiscent of the American life and American dream which we once knew.


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