Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Problem is What is Legal

Read today's Washington Post article on the US Securities and Exchange Commission and you will understand why people in this country are taking to the streets. Quite simply, large financial institutions and the individuals who run them can commit the economic equivalent of mass murder and not only get away with their crime but actually profit! They can pretty much squelch and undermine any attempt to rein in the laws that allow their crimes because they practically own both Congress and the SEC.

All this is just one of the perversions of public policy rife in America today. We are also plagued with a debilitating militarism that bleeds the civilian economy and an economy that prizes short-term profit over long-term sustainable enterprise. So why the fuck not to take to the streets. When you got nothin', you got nothing to lose.

Whether or not street demonstrations and occupations are a "good idea" or the best "tactic" is irrelevant. What is relevant is energy and anger, the power to make voices heard. And these days, those voices are beginning to be heard in all of their incoherence, conflict and cross-purpose. I'm still a romantic hopeful (or the other way around?) so I want to believe that some real alternatives to corporate-military-capitalism will emerge from this cauldron of ideas and ideals. Maybe the occupations are a spark that will mobilize the many who have been severely harmed by the economic crimes of the speculators and robber barons of the the last decade.

local note

Occupy Olympia held its first meetings yesterday. In true democratic tradition, the meetings were called in different places at different times. The larger of the two, at Sylvester Park downtown drew about 20-30 people after the smaller Capitol Campus group joined in. The crowd was all ages, more young than old. I saw a few friends, met new people and we talked about why we were there. Most of the discussion was general, no one seemed certain about what was supposed to happen. Many made signs and short statements. All knew that a General Assembly meeting was set for 6:00. It being a Friday and nearing vigil time Maggie and I left around 4:30.

A much larger crowd, well over 100, was in the park when we returned after 6:00. The format was much the same, with people taking turns speaking with a bullhorn that was not very loud even when the person actually spoke properly into the mike. As earlier, all ages were there but definitely skewed young. The talk was mostly strategy and timing--to occupy or not, civil-disobedience, where and how to organize any of the above. The group quickly made its first consensus decision--to move under one of the large trees and out of the light rain that had begun to fall. A few committees--food, media, outreach, cop-watch, maybe others--self-selected and met separately from the larger group. Two more Geneal Assemblies are scheduled in the coming week and a mass gathering next Saturday.

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Sunday, October 02, 2011

An Optimistic Thought. Mostly.

Maybe America is not destined to become a fundamentalist Christian theocracy after all:
The US is increasingly portrayed as a hotbed of religious fervour. Yet in the homeland of ostentatiously religious politicians such as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, agnostics and atheists are actually part of one of the fastest-growing demographics in the US: the godless. Far from being in thrall to its religious leaders, the US is in fact becoming a more secular country, some experts say."It has never been better to be a free-thinker or an agnostic in America," says Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The good news comes with a warning, though:
Yet there is little doubt that religious groups still wield enormous influence in US politics and public life, especially through the rightwing of the Republican party. Groups such as Focus on the Family are well-funded and skilful lobbyists.

And a few of them kill doctors.

Okay, that's not a particularly optimistic thought but it's reality. The good usually comes with some strings attached or other complication. Still, I like the trend toward less religious control of public life.