James Kenworthy

Cory Gardner promotes selfishness

I recently received a letter from Cory Gardner. In that letter, he assured me that my that my Medicare and Social Security benefits “will not change for you ever.”

If this was intended to reassure me, it did not do the job. What Cory Gardner is asking me and everyone over 55 to do is to be selfish, and not think of the coming generations that include our children, nieces, nephews and grandkids..

Working for the next generation is one of the ideas that made this country what it is. Those who fought in World War II did so to rid the world of a maniac and make the world a safer place. There are many such examples.

Asking us to be selfish does not seem like a good idea. Reducing the benefits of the coming generations benefits no one, except the rich who are not paying their fair share of taxes. In a recession, cash flow needs to be increased. The middle class will not be in a position to pull this country out of the recession until it is allowed to flourish. We need jobs and money to survive. All of us.

Cory Gardner’s actions do nothing to alleviate the problem. They are the actions of a young man who is following the corporate agenda. Either he is unable to resist the siren call of the corporate dollar or he is following that agenda without thought.

Cattlemen and Union Members?

Have you ever been in a room where cattlemen, a labor union, a progressive consumer group and urban farmers were all working together? Such an event took place in Ft. Collins on the evening of August 27th, 2010. Everyone was there because they are interested in non-corporate food. These unlikely allies are working together to stop the takeover of another segment of our economy by a few corporations. How long has this enlightened cooperation been going on?

Corporations have demonstrated their ineptitude by ruining the newspaper business and the economy, and now they are well on their way to destroying, degrading, and contaminating the food industry. A few corporations have already taken over the egg industry (500,000 bad eggs!), the chicken industry,  and the hog industry, but the cattlemen are fighting mad and fighting back. They don’t plan on taking this lying down.

This situation did not come about overnight. In 1919, the Federal Trade Commission presented President Wilson with seven volumes of evidence related to noncompetitive practices in the meat packing industry. Two years later, Congress passed the Packers and Stockyards Act. That law was supposed to make the meat business more competitive, so everybody could make a living. As it turns out, it was not properly enforced, so now there are just four major corporations (one of which is based outside the United States) dominating the meat packing business. As a result, what used to be a competitive market is now a closed market. Meat prices used to be set by market conditions. Now the corporations offer the cattlemen a contract, and they can take it or leave it. The ranchers are making a lot less money because the corporate packers are getting it all, and the consumer is paying more and more at the corporate-owned supermarket. In addition, the banking system is working to concentrate the control of money and credit, in order to solidify corporate power.

Now, cattlemen are working with meat-packing union members, who are also taking it on the chin. Corporate owners are doing their best to hold down wages and increase production. Safety is secondary to getting the job done, and the facility environment is one of blood, stench, heat and hurry. One example: In 2003, Luis Madrigal had his arm severed in a Tyson packing plant in Pasco, Washington. For some reason, the arm protectors had been removed from the machine he was operating. The rate of injury and illness at that Tyson facility is more than two and a half times the national average for meat packing plants.

Courtesy of University of Washington

Corporations are driving our food industry into the ground

The day after the unlikely gathering of ranchers and union workers, the Department of Agriculture and the Justice Department held an event. Cabinet members Vilsack, of the US department of Agriculture, and Attorney General Eric Holder were there to orate and, hopefully, to listen to some sense. Two thousand people showed up to speak and reinforce comments.

Probably the most visionary comment was made by  Vaughn Meyer, a rancher from Reva, South Dakota. He said, in part, “An overwhelming amount of facts and figures have been presented here today. However, I would like to [refer] briefly to that which will not be said here today. That which is as bone chilling and sobering as an Arctic Northerly in mid-December. The silence here today that is representative of the 370,000 producers who, through the past 16 years, have lost their hopes and dreams in production agriculture. The silence of over half a million family members whose last view of their livelihood was in their rear view mirrors. A silence that is relative to the loss of 215,000 rural Main Street businesses throughout the past decade. I witness this silence, only broken by the wind, as I pass daily through my home town of Sorum, SD, now zip code zero.”

How much more corporate control of the economy can we stand? The  Obama Administration deserves credit for organizing this series of five events nationwide, but will they actually do something to help the family farm flourish? As agriculture goes, so go the rest of us. We all eat. Corporate food is not wholesome food.

Thanks to www.foodandwaterwatch.org for the quote.

Declaration

A Declaration of Independence from Corporate Rule

Free Range LongmontCorporations (legal entities) have behaved in such an atrocious and unreasonable manner that it is now necessary to enumerate their shortcomings.  Their sole reason for existence is to make money and they attempt to foist this unwholesome way of life upon actual persons who draw breath and have spirit. By centralizing power and influence, corporations have become destructive of the rights of living persons. Furthermore, they continue to abuse the right of living persons and continue to gather power. They influence all branches of the government, which were originally established to promote the common good.  Thus we present the following list, and we implore actual persons to join the process to alter the system that allows nonliving entities to abuse and encroach upon the rights of living beings.

They have lobbied representatives of the people and have spent billion of dollars to pass unjust laws and to block the passage of just laws.

They have influenced elections by supplying such amounts of money that candidates are unable to resist.

They have deprived parents of peace of mind by influencing (stalking) their children and robbing said children of their childhood.

They have influenced the Supreme Court to declare that the “corporate entity” is a person under the 14th amendment. (Santa Clara County versus the Southern Pacific Railroad 1886)

Likewise they have influenced the Supreme Court to declare that money equals free speech thus depriving individuals of average means of that freedom. (First National Bank versus Bellotti 1978)

They have lied to the public and cheated all of us causing cycles of inflation and deflation thereby depriving the general public of any chance or real economic gain while the CEOs accrue untold riches.

They have caused over-consumption by their lies and have strewn their waste products into the environment, degrading our earth and our health and insisting that the public pay the costs of cleaning up said waste products.

They have twisted our public educational system into one that favors materialistic, conformist, and selfish attitudes while discouraging environment conservation, creativity, social cooperation and even a social conscience.

They own the media and use those means of communication to filter and distort the news to such an extent that is has very little meaningful content and may be characterized as propaganda. In the process, they twist the English language, mislabeling their deceitful deeds as laudable accomplishments.

In sum, they have marginalized citizen participation in government and eroded democracy by their overwhelming power, influence and greed and they have caused our culture to become shallow, narrow in scope and questionable in meaning.

We take full responsibility for having been asleep, but now that we are awake, we declare that in light of the above offenses by various voracious corporations, these many citizens of this United States pledge to resist corporate power and influence by any means possible including, but not limited to rejecting the ideas that corporations are persons and that money is free speech. Further, we pledge to ignore corporate messages and to shelter our children from corporate influence, and we reject the emptiness of the materialistic lifestyle and will spend our money only with responsible businesses. Furthermore, we pledge to pass on this DECLARATION, and to actively challenge corporate influence in any way possible and to inform other citizens of new and creative methods of doing so.

Is there a pattern here?

There are the interests of big money and there are the interests of informed citizens.  Chris Rodriguez writes for big money.  Of course he doesn’t say so; that would be too obvious.  His latest rant is about Shari Malloy and the petition for clean campaigns.

The clean campaigns petition is about publicly funded elections.  A candidate can voluntarily choose to use public funding, and if so, cannot use money from other sources, like big oil.  Voters would be able to tell the difference because there will be a statement beneath the candidate’s name on the ballot stating that he or she used public funding, and chose not to accept corporate contributions.  The idea is to diminish the impact of corporations in state elections.

Just a few days ago Chris attacked Sarah Levison and the fair campaign practices act.  Is there a pattern here?

Longmont is a swing city, in a swing congressional district, in a swing state; thus the attention from rich and powerful businesses.  Elections are one way the people can have a voice.  A transparent election process and clear, non-emotional messages make for good decision-making by the people.  That is the purpose of the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act.  It is also the purpose of the publicly funded elections.  We need to support both ideas.  The members of the city council who do not support the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act are not serving in the interests of the people.  Only those who are serving the interest of the rich and powerful are against these two ideas.

Protesting supreme insanity

It was a good day on the street last Saturday (1-21-2010). There was a demonstration in response to the Supreme Court’s bizarre ruling, which freed corporate money to influence elections as if corporations were human beings.

Six stalwarts showed up to hold signs. A young man on a skateboard stopped and wondered why we were demonstrating. He asked some intelligent questions and we had a good conversation. Another guy stopped to see what was going on and said he had just moved to Longmont from Denver. He said he had attended demonstrations at the Democratic Convention. It seems he’s one of us and may be back.

We all had a good time; lots of fresh air, conversation and a good photographer; quite a dynamic mix.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the Supreme Court would behave in such a fashion. Republican presidents appointed six of the nine Supreme Court justices and five of them voted against the people and for the corporations. Our Enthusiasm comes and goes, but the danger lingers on.

The good new is that more and more people are catching on to the fact that corporate power is THE basic danger we face. The question is, what can we do about it? We need to have a public discussion on this matter, but allow me to offer a few suggestions. We can stop buying crap we don’t need; we can grow some of our own food. Everything we don’t buy is money that the corporations don’t get. It’s our money unless we give it to them. Then it’s their money, and they use it to screw us. That does not compute.

We can become the media. Standing on the corner with informative signs is a type of media with no advertisement, and almost no cost. If there is any independent media around, support them, Viz Magazine and Free Range Longmont, for example. Use public transportation and ride bicycles. If you can save a teaspoon of gas, do it. Drive like an old granny. It’s good for the environment.

You already know all these things. We should all be lying awake at night trying to come up with creative ways to add to this list. My personal fantasy is that we could all agree on one corporation (like Coke) and boycott them until they squeak.

So, let’s put our collective heads together and come up with some useful ideas. Meanwhile, support a constitutional amendment to ban corporate personhood.