Jan 01, 2016
We all are angry. We all are vindictive. We all are envious.
None of us of sound mind and body is free of the inclination, all too often, to feel and express the most deplorable, dispiriting, and destructive of human emotions. And the fact that we all are also capable of compassion and the many varieties of love does not compensate for that fact, unless we consciously reject the destructive in favor of the life-affirming attitudes and emotions.
It is especially important that we do this in the political arena. The Republican field in the 2016 presidential race is filled with individuals who are adept at arousing our least admirable and most destructive emotions. The more adept they are, the higher they rank in the polls, with Donald Trump—part demagogue, part buffoon—today leading the pack.
These people, whichever of them becomes the party’s nominee, would have us renege on the social contract we have with ourselves.
They would increase the income inequality that already today is marked by the largest gap in history and a disappearing middle class.
They would consign to the capitalist system large swaths of public life—education, retirement, infrastructure—that depend upon cooperation and not competition or the profit motive to succeed.
They would marginalize and criminalize large sectors of our population while protecting the privileges and power of a tiny band of the super-rich.
They would enter upon dangerous military adventures that have already siphoned trillions from our coffers in pursuit of losing battles and in support of corrupt dictatorships that tyrannize and murder their own people.
Unfortunately, on the Democratic side, though the picture is not so dire, neither can it be considered very hopeful. Hillary Clinton is the epitome of a “business as usual” candidate, and only at our great peril can we carry on as we have for the past 35 years. And even Bernie Sanders, with his “political revolution” fails to adequately address questions of militarism, domestic unrest, environmental catastrophe, and—surprisingly since this is his defining issue—income inequality (see my Open Letter to Bernie Sanders in September 2015).
We must set aside our anger, our vindictiveness, our envy, and our fears. We are better than this. We are stronger than this. We are a caring, liberty-loving, rambunctious, ingenious, and generous people. And our happiness depends on promoting the happiness of others. The fact that we have not attended to this business for a generation or two is responsible for the sorry state we find ourselves in at this start of a new year.
Sep 30, 2015
Thanks to a cool new tool called Genius, you can now talk back to me with comments, arguments, guffaws, whatever. Simply block any word, phrase, sentence, or group of sentences. An odd-looking icon (what is that, anyway?) will appear above the blocked copy. Click it and an annotation section will open up on the right side of your screen. Once you annotate something, it thereafter displays with a yellow background. Click anything with a yellow background, and its associated annotations open up.
You may be sure I will keep an eye open for annotations and will respond to any that are not abusive, profane, or stupid. It would be even better if Genius could send me an email alert whenever a new annotation is created.
Nov 02, 2014
Someone (Mark Twain?) once famously commented, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Of course, the remark was intended to be a facetious one. What, after all, can one do about the weather? Precious little, as we are coming to realize in the face of global warming and increasingly dire episodes of out-of-control climate change.
Everybody (it seems) also talks about our current political situation, and have been talking about it eloquently for a good many years now, in films, books, newspaper columns, magazine articles, speeches, podcasts, tweets, and what-have-you. But nobody is doing anything about it.
Well, I am.
After attending to much of the material noted above, and after six years of blogging and considerable thought, I conclude that there are two bedrock issues we must address before we can do anything about all the others with which we are confronted. And those issues are poverty and education.
See The Growth and Spread of Concentrated Poverty, 2000 to 2008-2012 and Poverty in the United States.
Poverty, always a problem in this, the richest nation in history, is getting worse. And as FDR told us, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
It is time to provide enough to those who have too little. And the only way I can see clear to doing that is through work. Men and women need to work, for their food and shelter, for their self-esteem, and in order to take their proper place in a society where, for better or for worse, we are dependent upon one another. And their work needs to earn them a living wage. It is immoral to take an adult’s full-time labor and compensate that adult with less than a living wage. It is immoral, and it ought to be illegal.
So I pledge to expend my precious vote only on candidates who themselves pledge to support the following: That any adult 18-65 who is able and wanting to work will be provided with a job that pays a living wage.
Education. No Child Left Behind is a wonderful sentiment. However, as anyone who is today associated with the education establishment, the public welfare bureaucracy, or the prison system knows all too well, it is a sentiment which is far from becoming a reality. We waste our human capital by the millions in this country, and the burden which an unemployed, uneducated, and all-too-often imprisoned citizenry places on the rest of us is unacceptable. If we are one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, then no child can any longer be left behind to grow up in neglect, poverty, and ignorance.
This will require a reallocation of resources, a makeover of our public education system, and long-term devotion to the betterment of each and every individual member of our society.
And so I pledge to expend my precious vote only on candidates who themselves pledge to support the following: That we as a nation will do whatever it takes to assure that every child will grow up in a sufficiently nurturing environment so as to optimize their potential for leading happy and productive lives.
And you out there, will you join me and take the pledge? Because you know that today your vote is wasted, that representative democracy in this country is no more, that even the best of our “public servants” are captives of corporate money and influence.
If you will, send me your name, town, and state, and I will add it to the list of others who have so pledged. If the list grows sufficiently, one day it will make a difference, and perhaps we will be on our way to reversing our present descent.
And if you won’t take the pledge, just what will you do? I hope it is something worthwhile, and I hope to hear about it, because I will want to do it, too.
Jul 26, 2014
Everything is going to become unimaginably worse and never get better again. –Kurt Vonnegut (1970)
ISIS; MH17; Boko Haram; 56,000 unaccompanied Central American children crossing our border. Everything is becoming unimaginably worse since my last posting on St. Paddy’s Day.
And little is being done about any of it. It is as if the civilized world has become exhausted by the enormities of our uncivilized brethren.
At home, the Dow tops 17,000 and everything is hunky-dory for the one percent. On Democracy Now, Israel is slaughtering Arabs again and Canadians are delivering water to thirsty Detroiters. And DetroitWaterProject.org wants you to pay the bill of some of the 13,000 Detroiters who have had their water turned off for not paying their bill. Incredible!
The virulence of the Obama haters, which has paralyzed our government for over six years, will only get worse if Hillary Clinton is elected in 2016. From the vantage point of today, that seems the most hopeful scenario one can imagine, as horrible as I contend it will be, with more horrible ones becoming as likely very soon: a Republican takeover of the Senate this fall, the death or retirement of Ruth Ginsburg, a Republican takeover of the White House in 2017.
Economic recovery? There is no economic recovery while millions are unemployed or underemployed, or are seeing the buying power of their paychecks shrinking. And—surprise!—that includes most of us.
How can one live in this world? Where are the Mahatma Gandhis and Martin Luther Kings who can lead us out of this spiraling descent and back toward the mountaintop? They are nowhere. It is up to us. We MUST organize a third party and it must bring together the vast number of unhappy Americans who are tired of endless war, tired of huge deficits, tired of a bloated do-nothing government of over-privileged nincompoops, tired of the corporatocracy, and ready, once and for all, to forge a new government, of the people, by the people, and for the people, before we all perish from this beleaguered and crippled earth.
Nov 13, 2011
We are in a new age now. An age in which the many are subservient to the few. In which the wealth accorded those few outstrip the most magnificent treasuries of medieval monarchies or eastern potentates. In which anxiety, suffering, and want is, increasingly and inexorably, to be the lot of the 99%.
We have 25 million unemployed Americans and no jobs for them, either today or on the horizon. We probably have another 25 million or more working at part-time and/or low-wage jobs which barely—or don’t—allow them to scrape by. We have over 46 million Americans living without an income our government says is necessary to afford the basic necessities of life. And our government’s idea of what those necessities are is cruelly basic, indeed. Can you imagine supporting a spouse and two children on a gross salary of $22,350 a year?
The employment situation is not going to improve because the 1% have figured out how to prosper without the services or consumption of the lion’s share of the 99%. Scarcely anyone is needed to raise our food anymore, now that the “green revolution” and factory farming are well in place. Scarcely anyone is needed to manufacture the goods we consume, now that most manufacturing has been shifted to low-income labor in nations unhindered by environmental, safety, or other annoying considerations. Scarcely anyone is needed to perform a wide spectrum of services, from technology support, medical assistance, and legal research down to flipping burgers and pumping gas, now that the benefits of technology are maturing. Certainly no one is needed to vote any longer, our democratic institutions having been privatized by the corporatocracy.
Webster’s first definition of anarchy is “absence of government.” What we are experiencing is what I would call the New Anarchy, where institutions of public welfare, shared societal goals and responsibilities, and commonly held aspirations and the structures supported to realize those aspirations have been allowed to fade and disappear before our eyes. The “Me Generation” has been succeeded by the “Only Me Generation.”
Without a significant attitude adjustment to halt the runaway and quite literally antisocial train we find ourselves on, a great crash is in all our futures. A dog-eat-dog world can only end in a lonely death for the one dog left standing.
There is a better way, and it has been preached by preachers and sociologists and community organizers and philosophers and politicians since time immemorial. Ben Franklin may have said it best: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
The gibbets are in place, and the bodies are beginning to pile up.
Jan 09, 2011
The employment report that came out last Friday is a beautiful example of how to lie with statistics. The big number announced was the drop in the unemployment rate from 9.8 to 9.4 percent. The nation added 103,000 jobs in December and it is generally conceded that we need to add 100,000 to 125,000 jobs each month “just to keep up with population growth and keep the unemployment rate from rising.”1
So how did the measly increase of 103,000 jobs in December result in the largest drop in the unemployment rate in months? It is because the unemployment rate is based on a fiction the Department of Labor calls the “labor force,” which consists of the number of people who are employed or who are looking for work. An estimated 260,000 unemployed people gave up their long pursuit of employment in December, and that would seem to be the sole reason the unemployment rate dropped so precipitously.
For better or for worse, that number is the one which people latch onto when assessing the general state of our economy, and now we can see how misleading it is. To not count among the unemployed those who have given up looking for work is not simply a statistical failing, it is a moral failing. It is, however, a particularly canny political strategy, as now the nation is under the impression that unemployment—the single greatest threat we face today—is suddenly on a speedy and healthy mend, when nothing could be further from the truth
Give us an unemployment rate that includes all those who want to work but are unemployed, then include those who are working part time but want to work full time, and the millions of employed who are working for less, sometimes considerably less, than a living wage, and you will see a number that will strike terror into your heart. And in 2011, when many unemployed will begin exhausting their 99 weeks of compensation and will be desperate to take on any work at any pay, that number will begin to skyrocket.
America as the economic powerhouse of the world is history. The only question now is how fast and how far we descend in the coming decade into a second-rate, two-class society consisting of the few super-rich and the rest of us. A paradigm shift in priorities on the order of A New American Vision points a way out of our predicament. This, or something equally radical, is all that can reverse the trends of the past thirty years. And if we don’t get started on this now, it may well be too late.
1 CPBB Statement: January 7, 2011, by Chad Stone, accessed Jan 8, 2011.
Jan 01, 2011
To reverse the dangerous social, political, and economic trends of the last thirty years;
To halt our lemming-like march to extinction via global climatological collapse;
To close the vast gulf between the obscenely super-rich and the billions of our fellow creatures who go to bed hungry every night and whose children die by the thousands every day from disease, infected water, and malnutrition.
I don’t know how we are going to do this. However, the world is full of brilliant, caring, and aware individuals who today are tilling their own plots of ground in pursuit of global justice. If we can coalesce into a cooperative force, we can bring our world back from the brink. This is something we must do and we must do it now. If we don't, all of our causes are lost.
2011 will be a pivotal year. As 99-week unemployment benefits begin to run out, millions of Americans will face destitution to a degree not felt in this country since the depths of the Great Depression. Home foreclosures will continue apace, with millions of those same Americans facing the double whammy of unemployment and homelessness. The new Republican majority in the House will initiate a full court press to bring down Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security with, apparently, the cooperation of the so-called opposition party and the White House. As Robert Reich says in his Dec 30 piece you will find on this month’s Noted with Interest, the rich will get richer, the poor poorer, the stock market will go up, and the misery for the average American will deepen.
In 2011, boomers will begin reaching retirement age in droves. After the hit they took in 2008-09 to their retirement accounts, many of them will be unable to retire, further freezing out young people who are already unemployed in numbers far higher than the national rate of 9.6 percent. Wages will fall as thousands more enter the labor force each month and the unemployed become increasingly desperate for work.
The American people have been abandoned by their representatives and by a suddenly global economy and an international corporatocracy that look elsewhere for both labor and markets. Housing prices—an important indicator of a society’s economic well-being—continue to fall,1 plunging additional hundreds of thousands of homeowners underwater with every drop of a percentage point.
In his piece noted above, Reich hopes that “[p]rogressives, enlightened Tea Partiers, Independents, organized labor, minorities, and the young [will] form a new progressive movement designed to reconnect America.” This is our hope as well, and has been our theme here at All Together Now since 2008. In 2011, we must begin to forge that movement. And we must do it without, at present, an obvious leader around which to assemble our forces. Until one arises, we must gather our forces around the task itself. We have leaders aplenty, as noted above, tilling important patches of soil around the globe. What we need now is followers, committed to the goal of working together. If you are willing to be one of them, send me your name, your email, and your thoughts on how we should proceed. No task is more important to the future of our planet and our species.
1 US house prices fall in October, set to tumble further, by Mark Trumbull, from the Christian Science Monitor, Dec 28, 2010, accessed Jan 1, 2011.
Mar 14, 2010
Update (March 14, 2010): Enfield voters, at their annual town meeting, voted overwhelmingly to support seven local nonprofits.
Originally published January 30, 2010
The headline in my local paper this morning: “Enfield: No Money for Nonprofits.”
The New Hampshire community of 4850 people has decided, “for philosophical reasons,” to drop nine social service agencies from its annual budget, saving approximately $50,000 from town expenditures of around $5,780,0001 (less than one percent). Services provided by the agencies include, in part, mass transit, mental and physical health assistance, senior citizen programs, support for victims of domestic abuse, and poverty alleviation. By anyone’s estimation, the nine agencies provide the town of Enfield with far more than $50,000 worth of important social services.
Stories such as these, as well as too many we are reading in the national press, show the extent to which the social contract is fraying. In hard times, panic trumps intelligence, and the middle class in America has been undergoing harder and harder times since the beginning of the Reagan Revolution. Somehow, in our panic, the myth that government is evil and needs to be curtailed has taken hold of the popular imagination. But government is as old as the day the first two families moved into the same cave and found they needed to forge a social contract in order to preserve internal peace and fend off external aggression.
To be sure, that government is best which governs least. However, government is the glue that binds us together and delivers, as effectively, efficiently, and economically as possible, those services which are necessary to preserve internal peace and fend off external aggression. Among those efficent services are public insurance programs which, upon superficial examination, seem to take from all to benefit the few—public education, for instance. Upon closer examination and better understanding, however, we find these programs benefit all of us some of the time, some of us all of the time, and, indeed, some benefit all of us all of the time in that they relieve us of burdens which, were they to fall upon us individually, would be disastrous.
Those social service agencies in Enfield are examples of these public insurance programs. For a relative pittance, we can, for instance, assure the services of a visiting nurse, for ourselves or a loved one, should such visits become necessary. Should they become necessary without investing that pittance, provision of such services could easily be insupportable. To argue that the public as a whole should not support these services because everyone does not use them is to miss the point entirely—of insurance, of government, of the social contract we adhere to for purposes of living together in society.
It is with profound sorrow that we here at All Together Now witness our nation’s social contract disintegrating, when we know that the time has never been more ripe for listening to our better instincts and, together, forging a new nation dedicated to the health, happiness, and well being of all its people.
1 Enfield, NH, from NH.gov, accessed Jan 30, 2010.
Dec 25, 2009
America, wake up!
It is way past time to put your invective away, disown the cynical manipulators who stir you up to such passionate intensity, and focus on the facts: Your economic situation hasn't improved in 40 years; you've got a miserable standard of health care which no European or Canadian would tolerate for five minutes and for which you pay through the nose; your kids are fat and stupid from playing video games and eating nothing but sugar, salt, and fat all day; their schools are little better than prisons; one in six of you is under- or unemployed; the debt you have so massively and eagerly incurred has made billionaires out of a handful of the most evil bastards you could ever hope to imagine; and your world is melting faster than the Wicked Witch of the West.
Obama has delivered nothing but a measly stimulus package and a handful of cash for clunkers, while strapping your children and grandchildren with over $13 trillion in debt and Wall Street guarantees. It has become impossible to imagine a life for them free of endless domestic and international conflict, a 19th century standard of living, and an environment that will produce pandemics and mass starvation.
You are being played for a sucker by the likes of Glenn Beck and Barack Obama both. Go back to the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. Remember what this country is about. It is about opportunity and freedom, it is about the individual, it is about all the people, not the tiny few who have bought off the government, enslaving the people and robbing us of both opportunity and freedom.
And once you come to your senses, don’t get mad, get even. It’s easy: Elect representatives who represent us, not them.
May 18, 2009
All Together Now, begun on May 25, 2008, is currently suspended. Past postings are available via the monthly archives in the right-hand column or the category archives (Tags) in the left-hand column.
Aux Barricades! will continue to be updated with recommended political action items for the time being. They will also be available via our Twitter feed.
May 11, 2009
As the first anniversary of All Together Now approaches (our first posting was on May 25, 2008), we will take the rest of the week off to contemplate what the second year may or may not look like.
The first year, we believe, fulfilled our three-part mission, as noted in About ATN:
Feb 06, 2009
Yesterday’s item was the 250th entry in All Together Now since it was launched on May 25, 2008—an entry a day with a one-week hiatus. It is time to sit back, relax, pat ourself on the back, and ask, “What the hell are we doing this for?”
Our web host reports 10,183 unique visitors to this site in January, which we don’t believe for a minute, because if we actually had 10,000 readers, at least one of them with whom we were not already acquainted would have clicked the Email Alerts link by now or sent the webmaster a nice or nasty note. So we discount the visitor stats and presume only a few of the forty-nine people we send the weekly reminder to read the occasional posting. (And most of them didn’t ask for the reminder and are therefore technically being spammed by us.)
If we could, we would find a more hands-on opportunity to express ourself and help our suffering world more directly, preferably some opportunity not involving dengue fever or the prospect of being sold into slavery, one that promised a living wage and some basic health care. However, we’re not as young as we were when we went to teach in Vietnam with the International Voluntary Services in 1967 (a clever draft dodge if there ever was one). The White House has our résumé, but they’re dragging their feet getting back to us.
And there’s a stack of books over by our easy chair that we would rather be reading than all these dreary press releases and think tank reports.
So why go on? Because there are too many people out there who need us, and now I use the third-person plural not as the editorial “we,” but as you and me. They need us working together to arrange for them some measure of relief from the torments of poverty, ill-health, tyranny, and ignorance under which their generations groan. Your life is blessed (if you are reading this), as is mine; however, it is far, far poorer than it might be, if only we could bring to the rest of the world a fair helping of the blessings that we so take for granted.
Jan 02, 2009
Here at the start of a new year, we pause for a self-referential moment to review a couple of things about All Together Now (ATN) which may be of interest to you.
Nov 14, 2008
Nov 13, 2008
If you like challenging puzzles (or have a friend who does), do yourself (or them) a big favor and buy The DC Puzzler: The Book of Mystery-Theme Double-Crostics. Proceeds will support expenses for this web site.
Click here for a sample puzzle, then print out the resulting page in landscape.
Double-crostics superficially resemble crossword puzzles, but are both more fun and more challenging. And they actually have a purpose: the working out of a funny, profound, moving, or merely diverting quotation by a noted author. The book contains full directions on solving double-crostics.
Our puzzles introduce a new wrinkle to the old format. Each puzzle has a theme suggested by something in the quotation, and the theme is hidden throughout all the other parts of the puzzle. Discovering the theme then becomes a useful—and sometimes necessary—component in solving the puzzle.
This volume (we have others in the works) contains 60 puzzles, each with a different quotation from one of the 56 short stories and 4 novellas in the Sherlock Holmes canon. But don’t worry—you don’t have to know anything about Holmes in order to solve the puzzles and enjoy the quotations (well, it might help a little on a couple of them).
Send a check made out to Dale Copps for $14.95 for each copy desired and mail it to:
Jul 23, 2008
Hello, out there!
If you are reading this, and if you enjoy ATN and understand its potential value, perhaps you will consider joining our select ranks. If you could take on the task of reading one report associated with an area of your interest (see tags to the left), then writing up an ATN entry for us to consider publishing, you would be doing us all a big favor, including yourself.
I say “for us to consider publishing” because, let’s face it, the Internet is a reflection of the world, and both are full of questionable characters, so I have to put in that proviso. However, I am pretty sure that if you are clicking with ATN, your contribution will not only be published but will be of great value to us all.
Here’s all you need to do: Send me an email and tell me what “tag(s)” you are interested in, and I’ll get back to you with your “assignment.” In the alternative, feel free to suggest your own assignment, but let me give you the go-ahead before you actually write up the piece.
See the original “Call to Eyes” below for more information.
And Welcome Aboard!
Jun 24, 2008
I don't know if you're old enough to remember I.F. Stone. A pity if you're not. He was one of my heroes in the 60s. I.F. Stone's Weekly never had a circulation much above 70,000, but it was voted by his peers to be #16 of the top 100 works of journalism in the 20th century. Victor Navasky, writing in The Nation in 2003, gives a nice precis of Stone's muckraking, his prescience, and his iconoclasm.
Navasky describes Stone's methodology:
To scour and devour public documents, bury himself in The Congressional Record, study obscure Congressional committee hearings, debates and reports, all the time prospecting for news nuggets (which would appear as boxed paragraphs in his paper), contradictions in the official line, examples of bureaucratic and political mendacity, documentation of incursions on civil rights and liberties. He lived in the public domain.Here at All Together Now, we confront masses of (digital) paper every day--congressional bills and research reports, think tank documents, press releases and other news stories, etcetera. And we're no I.F. Stone. But all together now (get it?), maybe we can emulate him to some degree.
Jun 01, 2008
Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: - 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' [Martin Luther King, Jr.]
All Together Now is dedicated to the memory, and to the work, of Martin Luther King, Jr.
His dreams are our dreams; his work is now our work.
Copyright © 2008 All Together Now.