Saturday, January 30, 2010

In Memory Of Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

I was watching Bill Moyer's Journal on PBS last when he informed me of the death of Howard Zinn. He had just been on the Journal last month talking about history and a program on the History Channel, The People Speak. He was 87 years old, but had a vigor and interest in life that belied his years. He wrote the book, The People's History of the United States in 1980, but I didn't become acquainted with it until my 2005 retirement.
I had always liked history in school and, of course, was also interested in current events, but when I retired from working I was finally able to take the time to read as many books as I wanted. When you hold down a job in the modern day world, which is pretty much run by moneyed corporations to the detriment of their workers, you don't have a lot of time or energy to do anything but work. I figured out after retirement, that is exactly how they want it, a worker who is too tired to be well-informed meets their needs best, and cheaper.
So finally, in retirement, I haunted the library and started devouring books on history and current events. One of them was The People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. I soon realized that most of what I had been taught about American History in school had been a collection of bald-faced lies. By the end of the book, my eyes and mind had been opened and a deep sense of indignation took the place of my former trust in my country's government. A couple of years ago, a comic book version of the book was released, and I donated a copy of it to my local library. It is my fervent hope that more than one young person has been attracted by the format into reading it. Ours is not the history we were taught, the real, much uglier and honest version is contained in Zinn's book. It took me 62 years to really be educated about American History, and I am so grateful to him for making that possible. Thanks to him, I now ask questions about the news and don't just swallow it whole. I am much better informed about the reality of our country's government than ever before in my life. His search for truth has certainly aided mine.
I plan to re-check the book out next week and read it again so as to refresh my memory and to honor the truth-seeker who wrote it. Truth seekers and truth tellers are an endangered species in the United States of America. Howard Zinn was almost the last one left, and he will be remembered by many people who, like me, had their minds opened by him. It's a sad day for truth and honesty and justice, their defender has left us and counts on us to follow in his footsteps. I only hope we are up to the task! Rest in peace, Mr. Zinn. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

President Obama Meet Senator Scott Brown

As I had feared, the voters of Massachusetts sent President Obama a special delivery verdict today with the election of Scott Brown as a replacement for Ted Kennedy. I'm sure in the next few days, Democrats will find all sorts of circumstances to blame this on, but they need to take a good long look at themselves in a mirror. That's where they'll find the real culprits! In November of 2008, voters on the national level delivered a mandate to the Democrats for change that they ignored. President Obama, along with almost every other Democrat I can think of took that mandate and turned it into a politically expedient joke. Not a funny one either.
What they have shown us since that mandate has been a total slap in the face for the common, working citizen. They bailed out Wall Street, dickered back and forth over a health care reform bill that forces people to buy insurance from the very same insurance companies who have been ripping of the public for profit for years. Not only are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still ongoing, but Afghanistan is being accelerated to the tune of 30,000 troops, and Pakistan is being bombed by drones. The unemployment figures are rising like a tide of humanity forgotten by the politicians who are too busy filling their own pockets to care that the weary taxpayer can't take care of their daily needs. Lest I forget, Guantanamo is still open, and if there is one country anywhere in the world that doesn't hate America, please feel free to inform me of it's name. The American public is pissed off and tired of being lied to and treated like an ATM.
While these self-serving politicians look into that mirror, they might want to give a thought or two to creating jobs. You can't raise money from taxes on people who aren't working! That's what America needs, jobs, jobs, jobs. I'm not an economist, but it's not rocket science to know that when people work and are able to take care of their needs like food and housing, money they spend translates into jobs for others also. Both major political parties are so bound by their obligations to the corporation who own them, the taxpayer is on the bottom of their list of priorities. That has got to change. Someone somewhere has got to act with some audacity to recreate the economy. Consumer spending is not going to do it, but jobs will. Can you imagine what all the money being spent on wars could do for if it were spent on rebuilding our own United States?
So, to all the Senators and Representatives and you, Mr. President when you start to employ those who are un or underemployed, you may also be saving your own jobs! Get off your pampered butts and do your jobs, let losing the State of Massachusetts be a lesson to you. We voters are not kidding around. We need jobs, not more rhetoric!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Local News And Local Blues

I have been reading in the Rocket -Miner recently about our state legislators trying to raise the minimum wage in our state. We are currently linked with illustrious states like Georgia as the lowest minimum wage states. It didn't surprise me, because I have always advocated for a living wage, tied to things like housing costs and such, rather thann a minimum allowable wage. Part of what is being discussed is the minimum wage for waitresses/waiters, which is currently $2.15 per hour. Yes, you read that right, $2.15 per hour. Not only are you paying for the food you eat when you dine out, but you are also expected to subsidize the wages employers pay by tipping their employees! Having been a waitress in my younger days, I have always been a good tipper, because I have walked a mile in their shoes. But I rebel at subsidizing greedy employers. What universe do they live in where they expect a person to work for $2.15 per hour?
I also read that the union employees at the Jim Bridger Power Plant voted to accept the new contract the employer offered. I talked to one of them at the store today. He thanked me for my letter to the editor written in support of the union employees, and told me that they hadn't gained much in the contract, but with the way the company was acting, he figured they'd be locked out if they actually went on strike. He said that at this point, in this economic downturn, the employees were scared to lose their livelihood, so they felt they had to accept the contract.
I also talked to another friend, a union carpenter, who was telling me how bad a hit their union pension fund suffered in the Wall Street rip-off of main street workers. Workers, who now may never recover what these crooks stole from them. Millions of dollars, never to be recovered. How do you think he felt? He is only working part of the time, because of the recession, as it is, and then he finds out he may never get the pension he has worked to secure for years!
I wish I had a way to comfort these friends. I came away from these conversations angry as hell for what the elected officials have done to the working people. From the President on down to the lowliest politician, they have sold out working people to secure their own greedy aims. Major corporations and bankers have bought and paid for the demise of the working man. I wonder how theses greedy people can sleep at night knowing to what degree they have wrecked the lives and the livelihoods of so many Americans. It's no wonder that so many ordinary folks are pissed! The greed of those who run our government is so rampant, that you wonder how long before the collapse finally comes. WE HAVE TO GET MONEY OUT OF POLITICS BEFORE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS OBSOLETE. It worries me that we already may be to late to save our country. When the last working person dies from neglect because of our politician's greed, we can only hope that some future archeologist digs through the ashes of our lost civilization and warns whoever might be left.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Possibilities, Old Lessons

As I usually do this first day of the new year, my mind has been busy rerunning old memories of lessons learned. These are personal memories mostly, but a few are pertinent to the political arena. I have been really down in the dumps recently as I have watched how our career politicians have screwed up everything they touch. They have perfected the Midas' touch in reverse, every thing they touch turns to crap! I had pretty much given up my belief that a single person could have any effect on them. Each time I thought about the events in the year just passed, I came closer to political despair. My ever so slight faith in political saviors was demolished. A presidential candidate was elected by a huge majority (my personal vote included) and after a few hopeful signs, he elapsed into just another run of the mill politician. Oh woe is me!
One thing my romp with memories teaches me every year, whether personal or political, is that each mistake we make teaches us to be just a little bit stronger person. I never lost my faith in myself, just in politicians! I suddenly realized that I wans't going to be deterred in my challenge to myself to make the world a better place. In other words, I scaled back my efforts to change things on the national political level, and have instead decided to give it my very best to do what I can in my own community. My area of interest is in helping people to live healthy lifestyles, aided by good nutrition. I am an avid gardener, so I plan to use that to help make changes in young children's lives. This coming summer I am going to teach kids how to grow a garden. If there is no room for me to volunteer at the new Community Garden, I will find some volunteers through the local community and teachthem here in my own yard. Now that I have made this decision, the possibilities are endless. If I can teach one child how to live a healthier life through good nutrition it will be worth the effort.
Does that mean that I will no longer be following the political arena with an endless obsession? Oh hell no! I will still lambast every crooked politician who crosses my line of vision. I'll still be hitting my head against that old political wall, but I will balance that out by rounding out my hopeful side with a little youthful enthusiasm digging in a garden with me. Thinking about that possibility makes me already feel a lot more hopeful. New year, new plan, endless possibilities! If you want to join me, we will make the world a better place, one kid at a time. Who knows, maybe it'll make a difference!