Thursday, March 29, 2007

Call to Action

I want to thank Steve Bates of Yellow Doggerel Democrat for pointing out the text of speech titled A Time For Anger, A Call To Action, delivered last week by Bill Moyers at Occidental College in Los Angeles. As is usual for Bill Moyers it is brilliant and should be read by everyone concerned with the state of our nation today. While I found the entire speech extremely enlightening there was one section that I will share with you here. Maybe it will inspire you to read the whole thing.

We are talking about nothing less that a class war declared a generation ago, in a powerful polemic by the wealthy right-winger, William Simon, who had been Richard Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury. In it he declared that "funds generated by business... must rush by the multimillions" to conservative causes. The trumpet was sounded for the financial and business class to take back the power and privileges they had lost as a result of the Great Depression and the New Deal. They got the message and were soon waging a well-orchestrated, lavishly-financed movement. Business Week put it bluntly: "Some people will obviously have to do with less... .It will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more." The long-range strategy was to cut workforces and their wages, scour the globe in search of cheap labor, trash the social contract and the safety net that was supposed to protect people from hardships beyond their control, deny ordinary citizens the power to sue rich corporations for malfeasance and malpractice, and eliminate the ability of government to restrain what editorialists for the Wall Street Journal admiringly call "the animal spirits of business."

Looking backwards, it all seems so clear that we wonder how we could have ignored the warning signs at the time. What has been happening to working people is not the result of Adam Smith's invisible hand but the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a religious literalism opposed to any civil and human right that threaten its paternalism, and a string of political decisions favoring the interests of wealthy elites who bought the political system right out from under us.

To create the intellectual framework for this revolution in public policy, they funded conservative think tanks that churned out study after study advocating their agenda.

To put muscle behind these ideas, they created a formidable political machine. One of the few journalists to cover the issues of class, Thomas Edsall of the Washington Post, reported that "During the 1970s, business refined its ability to act as a class, submerging competitive instincts in favor of joint, cooperate action in the legislative area." Big business political action committees flooded the political arena with a deluge of dollars. And they built alliances with the religious right - Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition - who gleefully contrived a cultural holy war that became a smokescreen behind which the economic assault on the middle and working classes would occur.

From land, water, and other resources, to media and the broadcast and digital spectrums, to scientific discovery and medial breakthroughs, a broad range of America's public resources have been undergoing a powerful shift toward elite control, contributing substantially to those economic pressures on ordinary Americans that "deeply affect household stability, family dynamics, social mobility, political participation and civic life."
    What's to be done?

    The only answer to organized money is organized people.


    The only answer to organized money is organized people.

    And again:

    The only answer to organized money is organized people.

It is horribly easy to get frustrated with the state of our nation. Goddess knows that I have struggled with despair since the election in 2000. It has been very difficult to maintain a positive attitude about America and everything that is happening. It is chilling and frightening to see how far we have gone astray in just such a short time and what kind of damage we have wrought upon the world. It is even more disheartening to see the scope of work needed if we are going to put it all right and put ourselves on the right track again.

It would be very easy as I approach my sixtieth birthday to sit back and let someone else worry about the future and despair on a daily basis about everything that I see going wrong and worse. Somehow though, when I get too comfortable, I get sent a message like this speech by Bill Moyers that reinvigorates my desire to make a difference and not let the world pass me by. I may have only a relatively few years left but I can still communicate and while I may not see the fruits of my labor I will know that I did what I could to make the world a better place. So as Steve so rightly says. "We have a world to save!"

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