Friday, September 30, 2011

Time to Take a Stand

By Reginald Johnson

The Occupy Wall Street protests are not only continuing, they’re getting bigger.

As the old saying goes, this is just what the doctor ordered.

I think that at long last, a large number of people (including young people --- thank you!) are waking up to the fact that they’ve been fed a line of bull that our system will work for them. They see that contrary to myth, the American economy is totally controlled by the power of big corporations --- particularly the big financial institutions like banks and investment firms. In turn, the corporate behemoths control the politicians and the legal apparatus. Our society is effectively in a straitjacket. Creating real change and bringing about social and economic equality is impossible through traditional channels, because corporate power will block such drives every time.

The only way to break this stranglehold is through a mass movement, where so many people are involved, so many people are willing to be arrested, that political and business leaders have to accept change, otherwise, they’re gone.

The Occupy Wall Street movement and similar uprisings in other cities, are capturing the attention of the nation. People have had it. They’re tired of the lies from Wall Street stooges like Obama, tired of being told they have to sacrifice to keep our country afloat, while big banks and the people that run them, escape any requirement to sacrifice. It is infuriating to people that as their wealth declines through job loss and sinking house values, guys at the top of banks like J.P. Morgan rake in $30 million a year. This, after the same banks nearly collapsed our economy through reckless investment schemes, such as mortgage-backed securities, and had to be bailed out with trillions of dollars in government money.

So the beginnings of a mass resistance is underway, and it’s critical to get on board. The movement must succeed. The alternative is a rapidly declining level of political democracy and an increasing level of economic injustice.

It’s wise to remember the words of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass:

“Those who profess to favor freedom, but deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”


One other note. As the participants in Occupy Wall Street work hard to build their movement for greater economic justice --- and at real risk --- some people tied to the wealthy financial institutions in lower Manhattan apparently find the protests amusing. Check out this video from Global Research TV, showing a group of financial types standing on a balcony last week sipping champagne and laughing at demonstrators. They appear totally oblivious and insensitive to the problems of working people. It brought to mind the famous comment by 18th century French royalist Marie Antoinette, after she was asked how to help hungry peasants. “Let them eat cake,” she said.

Friday, September 2, 2011



By Reginald Johnson
Sept. 2, 2011

It’s a stirring sight to see so many people engaging in acts of civil disobedience in the on-going protest outside the White House against the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the United States.

To date more than 1,000 people have gotten arrested by sitting in front of the White House and refusing to leave, in the largest environmental protest in a generation. The demonstrators are trying to pressure President Barack Obama into rejecting a permit for the 1,700-mile pipeline.

The pipeline will carry a million barrels of tar sands oil a day from Alberta to refineries in Texas. Tar sands oil is particularly heavy in greenhouse pollutants like carbon, and the refinement into petroleum will emit large amounts of carbon and other gases.

The earth’s atmosphere is already loaded with carbon, which is creating global warming and an increasing amount of extreme weather --- hurricanes, tornadoes, drought and wildfires.

The last thing the planet needs is for the U.S. to start tapping into this massive amount of tar sands and sending tons more carbon into the air.

This is a time when the U.S. and other countries have to sharply cut back on the use of fossil fuels in order to fight global warming --- not make the problem worse.

Don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Dr. James Hansen, the NASA scientist and leading climatologist who said recently that if the tar sands project goes through, “it’s essentially game over for the climate.”

In scientific terms, Hansen says that if we want to keep life sustainable on earth, there can be no more than 350 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. Right now the atmosphere is at 392 parts per million.

Going ahead with the tar sands project and failing to take concerted steps to get off oil and coal, means there’s no hope. We’re hurtling towards 600 parts per million of carbon and doom for the planet.

Get involved in this battle. If you can’t make it to D.C. for the White House protest (Saturday is the last day for sit-ins at the White House, but another demonstration is planned in the city), go to Learn what’s happening and sign the petition asking President Obama to reject the tar sands pipeline.