Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Though it is the Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, we have a very different country “worth saving” today

We live in a country where the corrupt, dysfunctional two-party Democratic/Republican Party System is failing us; where venture capitalists and hedge fund billionaires are buying and destroying our democracy; where 401(k) s are fraudulent games of theft and greed played within the wealthy financial sector; where numerous senators and representatives are pawns of the American Legislative Exchange Council; where “the privatization of health services has corresponded closely with skyrocketing costs, leaving millions of Americans without access to care or deeply in debt for seeking treatment for their illnesses.” 

We live in a country where a major credit-rating agency was accused of “manipulating pension data”; where “Koch-supported groups have strongly worked behind the scenes on the federal and local levels to eradicate Social Security and Medicare as overly costly entitlements given to working class people,” and where the Koch Brothers and major corporations sponsor pension reform seminars for judges.  

We live in a country where Moody’s Investors Service, FitchRatings and Standard & Poor’s “gave out AAA ratings to sub-prime mortgage-backed securities. These securities turned out to be toxic, but the agencies were paid anyway. What's worse, when Wall Street ran out of questionable mortgages to securitize, it created a whole new market based on bets on those securities, bets called ‘derivatives.’ The Big Three kept on handing out AAA ratings to these complicated new products, and were again paid handsomely to do so. The rating agencies made hundreds of millions of dollars, but in the end, it was American taxpayers who paid the price -- losing their savings, their homes and their jobs in addition to having to pay billions to bail out banks…” 

We live in a country where breaking a constitutional contract with retirees and public employees is deemed morally and legally justifiable by legislative liars and thieves; where public employees and retirees are victims of plutocratic, concentrated economic privilege and power that accommodates and reinforces an enormous inequality of organizational resources for corporate self-seekers; where public schools are for sale; where public school teachers have been assaulted by a barrage of attacks on their autonomy, dignity and self-respect; where labor unions have lost political power and influence; where there is no pay equity or job security for college adjunct faculty, and where “memories of the university as a citadel of democratic learning have been replaced by a university eager to define itself largely as an adjunct of corporate power.” 

We live in a country where the plutocratic free market theory caters to self-interested desires and profit to the detriment of millions of Americans, while promising “freedom and prosperity;” where Free market principles advocate that the rich and poor should be taxed at the same flat rate, despite creating a vast inequity; where education, health care, retirement pensions, national parks (and most any function intrinsic to essential governing) become privatized to reap in more profits; where publicly-owned companies, services and their assets are auctioned off to private investors; that besides allocating vast amounts of wealth and resources from public to private ownership, there is a transfer of private debts to the public sector while public ownership and service are systematically dismantled.

-Glen Brown

According to Bill Moyers,  “…The historian Plutarch warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power of great wealth to subvert the electorate. ‘The abuse of buying and selling votes,’ he wrote of Rome, ‘crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.’ 

“We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have the Roberts Court that consistently privileges the donor class. We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have a Senate in which, as a study by the political scientist Larry Bartels reveals, ‘Senators appear to be considerably more responsive to the opinions of affluent constituents than to the opinions of middle-class constituents, while the opinions of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution have no apparent statistical effect on their senators’ roll call votes.’  
“We don’t have emperors yet, but we have a House of Representatives [and now a Senate] controlled by the far right that is now nourished by streams of ‘dark money’ unleashed thanks to the gift bestowed on the rich by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case.  

“We don’t have emperors yet, but one of our two major parties is now dominated by radicals engaged in a crusade of voter suppression aimed at the elderly, the young, minorities, and the poor; while the other party, once the champion of everyday working people, has been so enfeebled by its own collaboration with the donor class that it offers only token resistance to the forces that have demoralized everyday Americans…  

“It is simply astonishing that in this rich nation more than 21 million Americans are still in need of full-time work, many of them running out of jobless benefits, while our financial class pockets record profits, spends lavishly on campaigns to secure a political order that serves its own interests, and demands that our political class push for further austerity. 

“Meanwhile, roughly 46 million Americans live at or below the poverty line and, with the exception of Romania, no developed country has a higher percent of kids in poverty than we do. Yet a study by scholars at Northwestern University and Vanderbilt finds little support among the wealthiest Americans for policy reforms to reduce income inequality…  

“The Unfinished Work of America: In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether ‘we, the people’ is a moral compact embedded in a political contract or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others…  

“But there is nothing idealized or romantic about the difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens (something otherwise known as social justice) and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud. That can be the difference between democracy and plutocracy…  

“And so we are. One hundred and fifty-one years ago, Abraham Lincoln stood on the blood-soaked battlefield of Gettysburg and called Americans to ‘the great task remaining.’ That ‘unfinished work,’ as he named it, remained the same then as it was when America’s founding generation began it. And it remains the same today: to breathe new life into the promise of the Declaration of Independence and to assure that the Union so many have sacrificed to save is a union worth saving” (The Great American Class War -- the rich against the people).

The Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate -- we cannot hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. 

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. 

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863


  1. This hits a raw nerve in me.
    Actually, it hits several raw nerves.
    "-- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain..."

  2. I've been saying all of this years. People didn't want to hear it, didn't believe it, and didn't want to be depressed. Maybe it just takes people like you (and Bernie and films like "The Big Short" to get the message outside of our circles--let's hope so. And on the subject of education, The Atlantic has an excellent article this month about Common Core in the pre-school years--it's heartbreaking. In fact, it goes right back to the problems you stated in your article. We are teaching our children at the earliest ages to "not love learning." Pre-school children are sitting with worksheets all day in teacher-directed classes and are taught to read in pre-school--no thinking, no discovery, no enjoyment of learning, no time for arts--and it's all coming from the same billionaires who are destroying every facet of this country. this is exactly how Hitler educated the children of Germany.

  3. We live in a country where nearly 62 million people elected a president who is contemptuous and ignorant of the Constitution of the United States of America (specifically the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, and fourteenth amendments).

    We live in a country where nearly 62 million people elected a president who denies the reality of climate change and will allow the Keystone pipeline to move forward, lift restrictions on fossil fuel production, and dismantle environmental regulations.

    We live in a country where nearly 62 million people elected a president who extols Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein, and Kim Jong-un and who also plans to cancel every executive action and order of President Obama.

    We live in a country where nearly 62 million people elected a president who defrauds people through his bankruptcies and his so-called “Trump University,” a person who is also a defendant in a sexual assault case of a minor, a person who exacerbates hatred toward Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Muslim Americans and who has degraded veterans, women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, and the disabled.

    We live in a country where nearly 62 million people elected a president who disrespects the Gold Star parents and their dead son, who has pledged to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, who wants to ban Muslims from entering this country, and who expressed a willingness to use nuclear weapons.

    We live in a country where nearly 62 million people elected a president endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and other white extremists and populists, a person who has empowered fascists and white nationalists and appointed a white supremacist and anti-Semite as his presidential advisor.

    We live in a country where nearly 62 million people miscalculated the unequivocal danger in voting for an unstable-unremorseful-impetuous-vulgar-xenophobic-vindictive-irrational-inarticulate narcissist, racist, bigot, sexist, misogynist, and liar: now to become the 1st president of the Unhinged States of America.