Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"This country was founded on free land and free labor." Vinita Ricks

I think I've figured out why so many people in the U.S. are upset by President Obama receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace. This country was founded by people who forcibly took the land from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Narraganset, Iroquois and others who had lived here for generations. Then they yanked people from their homes in Africa to do the hard work required to make the fortunes that built the institutions to carry forward their way of life.

And the power brokers in America still believe they should take whatever they want, wherever it is: the natural resources from other parts of the world--diamonds from Africa, oil from the Middle East, etc., and all the cash from American citizens. Now we have a country where that 1% has more wealth than the bottom 95% combined.

These people actually feel so entitled to bully the world that China's growth makes them nervous. It's a threat to their hegemony. And, that's why they are incensed at Obama's Nobel prize. He is offering an America to the world that is not a bully. They don't want that.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

I seldom go to movie theaters anymore, preferring Netflix and my own comfy chair, but there are a few people for whom I will go out and Michael Moore is one of them. I saw his latest yesterday and found it so disturbing that I can't stop thinking about it. I've told everyone I know to be sure to see it. M. Moore documents things I had suspected, and reveals others I never would have imagined. The movie is in turns infuriating, provocative, anguished, inspiring, occasionally humorous, but always informative. Once again I was reminded that yes, many capitalists are inhumanely greedy, but I am more offended at the greed and corruption,with rare exceptions, of our elected officials. Why do we keep electing people to office whose primary goal is self-aggrandizement? We citizens have the power to turn these people out, or in some cases, to recall them as California did several years ago with Governor Gray Davis.

These words of the sixteenth (16th) century French essayist, Michel de Montaigne describes our current situation impeccably.

"Each individual one of us contributes to the corrupting of our time: some contribute treachery, others (since they are powerful) injustice, irreligion, tyranny, cupidity, cruelty: the weaker ones bring stupidity, vanity, and idleness...."

De Montaigne lived in a monarchy. One would think his statement would be inapplicable to a democracy, but it's a perfect fit. It fits because we citizens have abdicated our responsibilities to hold elected officials accountable to us. De facto, we are allowing a monarchy to flourish, except this time, it's royal corporations, rather than royal families.