I've only recently returned from what has become a Christmas tradition for me, and that's visiting my brother. He, his lovely wife and their two very bright and kind boys, have been my way of connecting to the holidays in a way I just cannot do without.
My brother and I have never shied away from talking about politics, I'm the dreamer, and he's the cold dose of reality I always need to provide balance. We don't always agree, but that never stops us from a spirited conversation while he graciously drives me from and to the airport.
Our conversation ended true to form, we were unable to solve the troubles that ail this country, but as I sit here pondering our discussion, I can't help but notice that we ended it as always, with a feeling of hopelessness.To be fair, let's just say that was my feeling. We both agreed that the following topics needed to be dealt with, though we had few immediate answers as to how to go about dealing with them. I'll list them in the order of importance as I see them, again my opinion not necessarily my brothers.
- Big money needs to be removed from politics. At present, we have a sitting government that only provides the public with lip service during an election, and once they've won our votes, proceed to work for those who provided the greatest financial backing. These backers are of course never too shy to remind their benefactors of the consequences they will incur if they are ignored and their needs go unfulfilled. Campaigns need to be publicly financed, with a rigid set of controls and 24 hour auditing. Anyone caught spending money in excess of what was allotted them, to be disqualified.
- Corporations are not people too! But because a Supreme Court who is supposed to rule without bias, has said otherwise, they can vote, and they can spend unlimited funds on ad campaigns that support the politicians of their choice. These are the same corporations who aren't liable beyond the occasional fine, for crimes that any actual PERSON would go to prison for.
- A plan must be set in place to generate living wage jobs, with opportunities for all to do more than just live to work. The middle class in this country are rapidly disappearing as all the once solid manufacturing jobs are headed overseas. Cheaper foreign labor has allowed corporations to continue to provide their primary share holders a 10% increase in profit sharing every year. Our government has done little to nothing in order to stop or reverse this, instead - we find out that not only is China providing incentives to lure the jobs overseas, but so is our own government!
I'm going to stop at these three, because it's easy enough to see the snake eating it's own tail. Yeah we could and did talk about corporations and the rich dodging taxes, public entities like the Post Office and our school systems going bust, or illegals ruining everything, but really I see no point in continuing.
If this country were a tree, an arborist would tell us what we already know, it's sick. If you want it to live, you gotta take care of the roots.
As I said, our conversation was more about identifying what was wrong, and less on how to fix. It wasn't from a complete lack of trying, but human nature, the need for cheap and easy instant gratification, and it's availability...makes any solution, hard to implement.
As a consumer based economy, we have only two real means of power afforded us by the Constitution, the freedom to organize and the freedom of choice. What does that mean to you, even if you don't feel like pitching a tent on city property? Well, it means you can be as involved as you want to be, in the change that's going to happen in this country. Here are some of my suggestions...
- Vote! Yeah even if it's just for the lesser of two evils.
- Stay aware of current events that effect you, your neighbors, and your country. Use multiple sources for news, avoid using the major networks as your soul source, and for what ever gods you choose to follow - sake, DON'T WATCH FOX NEWS!
- The next time you make that major electronics purchase, ask yourself if you want it or if you need it. Consider what went into it's packaging, what effect it had on the environment, and ultimately what effect it will have going back into the environment when it's no longer functional. The next time your shopping for flat screen TV's, try running a search on the companies that made the units. What's their record on environment, how do they treat their workers, etc...
- Try growing some of your own food and when you can, buy local fruits and vegetables, you'll be supporting local growers (jobs), and helping to maintain a smaller carbon footprint.
- Use recycled goods, shop with reusable bags, and of course - RECYCLE!
- Avoid using or purchasing food goods packaged in plastic if you can. My rule is, if I can buy it in glass or cardboard, than buy it that way. Folks, bottled water, unless you have a health issue or the water available to you is not drinkable, get a filter and bottle your own. You'll save money, and you'll help in a huge way towards reducing the amount of CO2 put into the air, and plastic into our oceans.
- Those of us who can afford it, try and shop for all your goods locally. Avoid shopping at the big box stores for basic needs, use them only if you must or in an emergency.
- Banks - Bank locally, avoid using the big banks, stick to local community and union banks.
So what? Am I a saint? Do I do all of these things? No, but I do some of them and mean to do more when I can. It isn't about just me, it's about all of us trying to do these things, to effect change.
Singularly we can do very little but as a cooperative group, there's very little we can't do.
Here's hoping we all have a very Happy New Year.