Monthly Archives: October 2012

“Wasted” votes

Every four years, we have the same three choices: vote for the lesser evil out of fear of the supposed greater, vote for a third-party candidate who expresses your views better but has no chance of winning, and not voting. Once in a great while, it seems like we have the chance to vote for a major party candidate we think we really like (Clinton or Obama the first time around?), but they never fulfill their campaign promises — which, usually, were pretty vague to begin with.

During the 1996 Clinton vs Dole campaign, there was a great cartoon, which I still have somewhere: Dole is hitting someone on the head, shouting, “Hit him four times!” and Clinton is hitting the guy on the head, shouting, “Hit him 3½ times!” That’s pretty much your Republican-Democrat choice, and, if you live in a hotly contested state and that difference is significant to you, go for it. But either way, you’re still basically getting an actor hired to represent the imperialist corporatist state, not someone who will represent very many of your interests. (Yeah, I know, they may pick a Supreme Court Justice, who will also represent the corporatist state in either a “liberal” or conservative way.)

As you can probably tell, I’m sick of the first option, and, having the luxury of living in a Democratic state, I’m voting for Jill Stein and Cherie Honaker, the Pacific Green Party candidates. In fact, I’ve already mailed in my ballot. But it’s just an exercise, since under our current system, they not only don’t have a chance of being elected, they never even had a chance to put their platform before the electorate (Stein and Honaker were arrested for trying to get into the last presidential debate).

In this system, all votes are wasted (meaningless), because pretty much the same things are going to happen either way. I’ve seen the man (men) behind the curtain…In fact, the most meaningful option is probably to ignore the whole show and not vote. That’s not apathy or indifference — it’s a rejection of the whole charade.

It’s the capitalism, stupid!

I’ve just read two books that make the case for a view I’ve long held: that capitalism is to blame for just about everything that’s wrong with our world.

The first, Days of Destruction, Days of Rage by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco describes four “sacrifice zones”: the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in southwestern South Dakota; Camden, NJ, a former port and manufacturing town turned third world city; southern West Virginia, devastated by mountaintop-removal coal mining; and Immolakee, Florida, where poor migrants from Mexico and Central America break their backs and are subjected to toxic chemicals picking tomatoes for a pittance. Hedges’ eloquent words and Sacco’s black and white ‘cartoon journalism’ images assault your mind, soul, and senses — you want to turn away, and you can (just like you can stick your head in the sand) — but the people who live in these places can’t. And, Hedges, warns, this is what the capitalist system has in store for the great majority of us, unless we say, “Hell, no!” How? Hedges thinks the Occupy movement provides a good model of living another way, in harmony with nature and each other — valuing each life and respecting life in general, as our current economic system, a cruel juggernaut that turns life into death or ugliness (waste) in the blink of an eye, does not.

The second book, Ecology and Socialism by Chris Williams, focuses on climate change, and demonstrates that nothing meaningful will be done about this problem — or the general problem of environmental destruction — under capitalism. Capitalism, which must continuously expand production to cope with the interest-bearing debt on which it’s based, cares only about short-term profit — it can’t support any other value. Williams believes that only renewable energy like solar, wind, and geothermal is sustainable, and suggests ways that it can be stored to be consistent. Continuing to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas will make severe global warming inevitable, causing 50-75% of species to go extinct, and dooming the few remaining humans to a miserable existence.

Williams also shows how hunger and poverty are caused by capitalism, not overpopulation. His conclusion: Only by holding land and the instruments of production in common and producing to meet social need rather than profit will the simultaneous exploitation of nature and humanity end [italics mine].

You can read my synopses of these books on this website, if you wish. Just go to the Resources section at the top of the page, and click on the title under “Non-fiction books.”

Alice Walker’s take on the “War on Terror”

Alice Walker on the “War on Terror,” Yes magazine, Fall 2012

I think the War on Terror is really absurd, especially coming from a country founded on terrorism. The hypocrisy of that is corrosive; and we should not accept it. There is no way of stopping terrorism if you insist on making enemies of most of the people on the planet. Why should they care about you? All they feel is fear.

So, I would stop the War on Terror and start making peace with the peoples of the planet by trying to understand them. I would like us to be able to say, “If that happened to me, I would feel exactly the way you do. And what can we do from here, from this understanding? What can we do together?”

Bike path graffiti

Most of the graffiti I see on the brand-new surfaces of our stream-side bike path are the usual “tags” that, to me, are exactly like dogs peeing to mark territory. But, once in a while, there’s a gem, and I saw one yesterday: “Just Tao it.”