I usually devote days like July 4 to appropriate pieces, such as poems and songs celebrating our nation and its freedoms.
But I am not feeling especially celebratory today. In many respects, it appears that our politics is rushing headlong back to the 1920s or even the 1890s, when polite society diverted its eyes from unpleasant facts like hunger, homelessness, and other signs of human distress. Our politicians must worry constantly about raising enough money for the next election, so they listen more attentively to those who have the most to contribute to their campaign, rather than to voters. Voters can always be hoodwinked by a slick media buy.
We must not despair because despair is a certain path to defeat. We must rededicate ourselves on this day to saving our democracy, to restoring the belief that America is meant to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We can’t compete with the billionaires’ cash for votes, but we can build organizations to inform and mobilize public opinion to take our government away from the plutocrats. I, for one, do not want to sit idly by as income inequality and wealth inequality grows. I commend to you the book The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson. A short description on amazon.com, “Almost every modern social problem-poor health, violence, lack of community life, teen pregnancy, mental illness-is more likely to occur in a less-equal society.”
If you look back over American history, you will see swings of the pendulum, from eras where there was a strong sense of social responsibility to eras of selfish individualism. We are now at the far end of the pendulum swing, with our elites pushing hard to persuade the public that selfish individualism and consumerism is true Americanism: every person for him- or herself! Let the hungry fend for themselves, it is their own fault that they are hungry.
We can sit back and watch as the social safety net is shredded, or we can resist. We can sit back and allow our public schools to be taken over by entrepreneurs, religious groups, and privateers, or we can resist.
I say resist.
Here is a wonderful post by Edward F. Berger, a blogger in Arizona who is leading the charge against corporate reform in that benighted state, where the profit-making entrepreneurs have grown fat by taking over public schools and draining their funds for their own profit.
He asks the following questions and urges his fellow Arizonans to organize and resist the destruction of the public square and the corporate takeover of public education:
Edward R. Murrow once said: “I am in a financial morass from which I am unable to extricate myself.” Many States are in a political morass as a result of a planned assault on America. The question is, how do we extricate ourselves? In Arizona, one of the most corrupt states, leaders are emerging who know how. They use facts and data, and social media to bypass the in-pocket Press.
Is there anyone who believes that the misuse of hundreds of millions of dollars of public taxpayer money in Arizona is an unexpected consequence of so-called education reform?
If so, they most likely profit at the expense of the children and families from whom this money is stolen.
If so, they are part of a radical and nation-killing movement based on feudal ideology and pure greed.
If so, they are part of a State Legislature that intentionally forbids charter school accountability and protects those who are given our tax dollars and use them for their own profits, kids-be-damned.
If so, they have written laws that allow pirates to create closed and unaccountable “schools” that rake in millions of public tax dollars via side-deals and Real Estate deals. They eliminate students that they can’t benefit from. They kick out children that don’t serve their needs and send them back into the public schools humiliated, damaged, and often broken.
If so, they are Legislators who do not believe in the separation of Church and State.
If so, they are part of political organizations that supports the privatizers and radical right-wing, and ignore the damages to their community and to children and families.
If so, they support privatization and profiteering from dollars citizens pay to educate children. They privatize any-and-all functions of government where there is profit to be gleaned. Prisons and schools for example.
Is there anyone in Arizona who believes that the extreme right-wing, working for ALEC-Koch-Goldwater Institute-John Birch Society bosses has not intentionally, decade after decade, placed totally unqualified non-educators in the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction, thus undermining public education from inside?
Those who wield these powers have used every opportunity to destroy the teaching profession, our community schools, and now our Universities.
Is there anyone in Arizona who doesn’t know that a Right To Work State is a trick to extract more profit from battered workers and to curtail information the public needs by not letting workers organize and speak out?
Is there an educated citizen of Arizona who is not convinced that the Democratic process of Representative Government has been defeated through the control of primary elections and the selection of those who will get massive financial support: Those candidates they allow to run and win? That those who wield power have effectively discouraged people from voting?
Be sure to read his conclusion.
And when you are done, join The Network for Public Education, which is supporting resistance across the nation.