Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Only Discretionary Income Should Be Taxed.

Only "Discretionary Income" Should Be Taxed Under A System Of Progressive Taxation.

There is an economic concept known as "discretionary" income. This refers to money that people earn which is above and beyond what they need to pay for their basic living expenses.

For example, let's say someone earns $3000/month, $36,000/year. Let's say further that the minimum it would cost this person for housing where they live is $1200/month; health insurance $200/month; food $400/month; car insurance, gas, amortized portion of purchase and repairs $250/month; other utilities such as gas, electric, trash, phone, $150/month, dental $50/month, clothing $50/month, personal products and cleaning supplies $100/month (shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels), and $100/month for an emergency fund. That means $2500/month is the minimum amount this person needs to pay their basic living expenses, without any extras. That means this person has $500/month, $6000/year in "discretionary" income.

Let's take another person earning $120,000/year, $10,000/month. Using the same figures, this person would have $7500/month in "discretionary" income. They could live reasonably on $2500/month, and therefore can do what they want with the $7500/month additional income. It is within their "discretion" to decide whether to save it or spend it and, if they spend it, whether to buy something of long-term value or buy expensive clothes that will have no value within two years. It is entirely within their discretion.

One approach to a progressive system of taxation is to set up a basic amount which is required for somebody to live reasonably every month. In this scenario, I have assumed $2500 is the minimum cost to live reasonably in a month. In a progressive tax system, the first $2500 of somebody's monthly income should not be taxed because, by definition, $2500 is the minimum each person needs to spend in order to have a reasonable life, to pay for the reasonable necessities of shelter, food, medical and dental, modest clothing, and transportation.

Assuming each person needs $2500/month for basic living expenses, that amount should be deducted from their gross income before any taxes are owed. The "standard" deduction from gross income, for purposes of calculating taxes, should therefore be the minimum amount they need to reasonably live:  $2500/month, or $30,000 per year for a single person. Obviously for married couples, and people with children, each additional person in the family would "cost" less than the $30,000 for the first person. The second person's "costs," in other words, might only be $20,000, since they share the cost of the housing, utilities, and certain other expenses.

If the standard deduction was $30,000 for a single person, then anyone earning $30,000 or less would pay no taxes. Which is how it should be if it requires $30,000 for somebody to live with minimal standards. It's not the fault of the citizens that the cost of living has gone up so dramatically. The standard deduction, unfortunately, is frozen at some unreasonable figure which doesn't even come close to representing what it really costs for somebody to have a minimal lifestyle in this country.

Taxes should only be applied to discretionary income. The percentage of taxes should be progressive, or progressive upwards to reflect the higher income. For example, the first $10,000 of discretionary income might have a 10% tax rate. Everything between $10,001 and $30,000 of discretionary income might have a 20% tax rate. Everything between $30,001 and $70,000 would have a 30% tax rate, and so on. All income (regular and capital gains combined) above the amount of $250,000 should be taxed at 90%, at least until our nation has paid for the bush-cheney wars, we have rebuilt our infrastructure, re-invested in our schools and education, hired back the teachers, cops and firefighters, and other public employee workers who have been fired, and put everyone back to work. Somebody earning $550,000 for example, would be taxed a progressive rate for everything above the minimum living standards, but would also be taxed at 90% of the $300,000 above $250,000.

So somebody earning $60,000 would pay $1,000 (10% of the first $10,000 of discretionary income, the amount between $30,000 and $40,000) plus $4,000 (20% of the amount between $40,001 and $60,000), for a total tax of $5,000.  The money that would be saved by most working people would also be spent locally, in their own communities, which creates jobs for our neighbors.

Sounds low? Only because we're used to having so much of the tax burden transferred from the rich and the businesses to working Americans because of the tax changes under Reagan and Bush. They changed the tax structure so that the rich pay less, businesses pay almost nothing, and working people have to pay more and more taxes because of tricks like not raising the standard deduction to reflect the actual cost of living.

A progressive tax system, which we theoretically have, "progresses," starting at a low tax rate for low incomes, and going up to a high tax rate for higher incomes. What we have in our country is a system in which rich people and businesses have paid so much money in bribes to the politicians that our tax laws have been re-written so that everything is now regressive, not progressive. Sales taxes, for example, are regressive.

Let's take a state sales tax of 10%, for example. The person earning $24,000/year could easily spend 1/3 of that income buying items which are subject to the sales tax, so they end up paying 10% of $8,000, or an additional $800/year on sales taxes, let's say an additional 3% of their gross income is paid out in taxes. But for the person earning $120,000/year, most of what they do with their money is not subject to sales taxes, since much of the money is "invested" in real estate, or other investments to which sales taxes do not apply. So that person could end up spending under 1% of their income on sales taxes. Sales taxes are regressive, since they force lower-income people to pay a bigger percentage of their income in taxes, while the rich pay less.

The reason that more Americans are broke is not because we are stupid, or even uneducated. There is a big push on now by the politicians and the business community to claim that the reason we have high unemployment is because we need to have more education for "our" workers so "we" can compete. This is such garbage. A pack of lies. Tech companies, for example, go to India and Pakistan and recruit computer engineers to come to the U.S. and work on H1b visas, because they can pay them $11,000/year less than they would pay an American. In the meantime, well-educated American engineers in the computer as well as other fields have all been thrown out of work by U.S. corporations simply because the CEO wants cheaper labor.

The same is true in the building trades, with many highly qualified and well-trained Americans thrown out of work and replaced by truckloads of unauthorized migrant workers brought into the country by coyotes. 

Most major hospitals have an entire department devoted to getting h1b visas and bringing in planeloads of nurses and similar medical workers from countries like the Philippines, because they are paid much less than Americans are.  In the meantime, the community college systems which used to turn out nurses with excellent two-year programs now have five year waiting lists, so jobs that could be filled by Americans, and Americans who are eager to do the work, are instead given to low-paid foreign workers.  This is the flip side of outsourcing jobs.  Nobody should be allowed to hire foreign labor for a job inside this country unless and until we have full employment for all Americans.

There is a systematic program in place in this country to throw more people out of work, eliminate taxes and all regulations which otherwise apply to businesses, cut the taxes for rich people, and steal everything that working people have, including pensions, savings, and homes. All of it has been looted and taken by the wealthiest and most powerful people in our country.

Another scam used by the rich to avoid paying taxes is the "personal" charity.  People like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Bill Clinton, set up their own personal charities.  Then they take part of their income every year and put it into their "my charity" account, and don't pay taxes on it.  As long as they pay out 5% of the money from the charity account to actual charitable purposes every year, they do not pay taxes on the rest of the money.  If you're earning 10% or more on your money, you can see that this is little more than a scam to allow the rich to accumulate large amounts of money tax-free.  What can they do with that money?  They use it to acquire interests in industries where they want some control.  Bill Gates, for example, has used his charity money to buy into the field of Genetically Modified Organisms (Frankenfood), to hold conferences on privatizing education so private corporations seize our education money and create WalMart schools for the kids.  Every person should be limited to a $500 tax deduction for charitable contributions.  Pay your taxes to this country.  After that, if you billionaires are feeling a little generous, give some of your money to the poor. 

The tax system has been changed to allow the rich to pay less, and force most Americans to pay more. Then the tax money that we do pay is taken away from us, away from our communities, and sent instead to pay for wars, to support dictatorships around the world, to pay thugs to stage coups and overthrow other governments, while our schools and bridges and freeways are allowed to deteriorate.  Our country is in a state of collapse because the rich no longer pay taxes, and the government spends all our money on wars fought to benefit Wall Street and the corporations.  You notice we don't invade countries unless they have oil or other resources that U.S. corporations want to steal. 

Changing the tax system would be a good place to start in trying to save our economy. If we started taxing the rich and businesses, we could begin the process of paying down the debt and investing in our own country again. 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Leave a Light On In The Window


Leave A Light On In The Window

It's that time of year again when the sun has gone away, packed up and moved to some other country where the people wear bathing suits and shorts from sun up to sun down, their daylight lasts for 14 hours every single day, they are warm all the time, and have to put lotions all over themselves to avoid getting too much sun, getting burned by the sun. But for the rest of us, it is now cold and dark, and our days are short.

We're now given just a few hours of daylight, or so it seems -- barely enough to travel to work maybe even in the dark and certainly in the cold, bundled up, face looking down so the cold wind does not sting our eyes, arriving early to our place of labor where we likely stay until it's dark again, when we reverse the route, getting home to eat, watch TV, go to bed, do it again. Some desperate souls buy expensive lamps that are supposed to trick their brains into thinking it's still summer, always will be. The rest of us know it's winter, it's dark, it's cold, it feels like we're in a coffin that's being lowered into the ground, dreaded pallbearers efficiently disposing of what's left of our pale cold selves, and who knows if we'll ever see daylight again. Or we're huddled in caves eating something warm from a pot and packing on fat to survive in case we face terrible storms and cannot leave our caves for months, sitting in the dark, waiting, waiting.

Maybe winter is the true test of faith: do you believe? Do you believe, despite everything to the contrary, that the sun will return and we will be warm again? Do you believe, while huddled in a cave without warmth or light, do you believe that babies will be born and bulbs will peek through the once-frozen ground to reveal their stunningly glorious colors just in time for spring? Do you believe the trees will bud and produce unimaginable quantities of fresh juicy delicious fruit. Do you believe that you will walk barefooted in your house and yard, and forget to put on shoes because life is just so good? If you believe all that, then you have faith.

How do we show this faith, of the not particularly religious type, the faith of the human spirit, that part of our soul that is so tied to nature and to the lives of our ancestors stamped onto our bones by DNA that it is neither conscious nor particularly rational, unrelated to race or ethnicity or country of birth or political party or religion or gender. The faith of humans that life will go on, even when we see none of it around us, and it seems this must be the very end, the absence of light, the absence of warmth, yet the faith buried deep inside our heads quietly says: Wait, Wait, it will get better, life will come back again, this is not the end. Intermission, not game over. A trial separation, not a divorce. Serious illness but not fatal. Faith in what we have not seen because it does not yet exist, but despite that, we have absolute certainty on this point.

The practice of putting lights (originally candles) on indoor Christmas trees is attributed to Martin Luther, who broke with the Catholic Church in the 1500s and started the foundation for the new branch of many religions known as Protestantism. The first electric Christmas Tree lights came from Edward H. Johnson who decorated his Christmas tree with electric red, white, and blue bulbs in 1882. It did not become common in most homes until the 1930s. (Source: Wikipedia). After World War II, when the suburbs sucked all the families out of the cities, out of the apartments and into the tracks of stucco homes, the practice of lighting the exterior of homes became popular and, eventually, competitive.

I like the Christmas lights. I have a neighbor who lights his up the day before Thanksgiving, every year, and I'm so happy when he does. More a shack than a mansion. No sound system, no blinking Santas with reindeers, no virgins with babies or prophets with camels, no scripture, just bright colored lights, red, blue, green, white, big bulbs strung around his house announcing to the world: I'm still here and I won't let this winter turn the world dark. I will stand in defiance, all by myself if necessary, and light the world or at least this little part of it.

I suppose it's just another expense in a year when most Americans have seen their income slashed, savings stolen, pensions eliminated by the upper 5%, the scum, the real un-Americans among us, the Wall Street Boys and the politicians they've bribed, the warmongers, those who embrace the death of others to grab a few more pennies for themselves. But I don't think those people could ever understand or appreciate the concept of one neighbor lighting up the way for another, for no particular reason, but just to stand against the dark for one more night. So I say light 'em if you've got 'em.

The song below was recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943. That must have been a tough year for many families in this country who had husbands, sons, fathers overseas fighting in World War II. And all these years later, we're in other wars. So keep a light on for someone special even if it's someone unknown to you, who we hope will be coming home to spend time with their family for the holidays.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Woodstock 1969: Three Days of Peace and Music.

In August of 1969, a music festival was scheduled to take place on some open land, rented from a farmer, near the town of Woodstock in upstate New York. Outdoor music festivals were relatively common at the time, but the promoters did plan to draw a large crowd because of the terrific line-up of performers they had scheduled.

As it turns out, the number of young people who decided to go to this music festival grossly exceeded what had been planned. Hundreds of thousands of young people traveled to upstate New York for that three-day festival in brightly-colored vans, some hitchhiking, all planning to celebrate with other young people from around the country and listen to some good music. The rumor has it that the New York State primary freeway was shut down for a time because of the enormous number of vehicles headed to Woodstock. Eventually a half a million people ended up at the Woodstock Festival.

The young people who attended, cheered, celebrated Woodstock soon became known as the Woodstock Generation. They have been vilified, demeaned, ridiculed by the right-wing fascists who took control of this country under Reagan and kept control through two Bushes and one Clinton. But the Woodstock Generation was possibly the smartest generation in this country for decades. Had their ideas and views been followed, we would undoubtedly have a better country and more peaceful and humane world.


Among the performers at the Woodstock Festival were the following:
Richie Havens
Ravi Shankar
Arlo Guthrie
Joan Baez
Country Joe McDonald
John Sebastian
Canned Heat
Grateful Dead
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Janis Joplin
Sly & the Family Stone
The Who
Jefferson Airplane
Joe Cocker
Country Joe and the Fish
Ten Years After
The Band
Blood Sweat & Tears
Johnny Winter
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Jimi Hendrix

Nice shot of the crowd:

The Woodstock Generation, although consisting of a loose connection of young and not always so young people, embraced certain beliefs and principles about life which at the time were considered revolutionary, and which terrified the ruling powers in this country. Here are just a few of the principles of the Woodstock Generation.

1. Stop Polluting The Environment. Rachel Carson brought the nation's attention to this issue in her book "The Silent Spring," and the Woodstock Generation was the first to demand that changes be made. Stop polluting the air and water. Simple concepts, but at that time the people who ran this country tried to cover up the truth. How much of the cancer in this country, and disease in the world, is the direct result of corporations dumping chemicals and poison in the earth and water?

2. Live Simply. Don't spend your life chasing more or competing with the neighbors. Consume less and contribute more. Help your neighbors. Don't hoard. Don't take more than you need.

3. Local Food Control. Eat simply. Eat locally-grown produce. Don't buy the corporate-produced food which is packaged or sprayed with poison. Take back control of food. And help people in other countries do the same.

4. Population Control. The churches oppose this, and encourage their members to breed as if there was no limit to our resources. But the fact is all people should be limited to 1/2 of a child. After that, get yourself fixed. We should cut the world's population in half immediately, and possibly cut it by another half after that. We are well on the way to destroying every living plant, all food stuff, and every single animal or fish in the world, because of gross and excessive and obscene overpopulation. And in the meantime, the Republicans on TV celebrate the stupid Americans who have 12 kids, or 18 kids, and act like this is all good fun. It's suicide. It's also likely to destroy the entire earth and all living things. If the demands of the Woodstock Generation for population control had been followed, we probably would not be facing the extinction of so many animals on this earth.

5. End All Wars. The Woodstock Generation was against the war in Vietnam. But they were also against all wars, preferring the idea of creating strong international organizations with the authority to send in peacekeeping troops to protect civilians. Possibly mandatory mediation of disputes.

War consists of one macho male sending the young men from his country into another country to kill the women and children. That's always what it comes down to. Killing children and babies is wrong. We have the sophistication and wealth to end war for all time, if we wanted to. If this principle had been adopted, think of the millions of lives that might have been saved. (Burning a draft card, refusing to go to Vietnam).

6. De-Criminalize Drugs. Who came up with the stupid idea that we should use the military to fight against addiction? The U.S. has troops all over Central and South America propping up dictators and despots, providing security for U.S. corporations that are stealing resources from those countries. And this military occupation is done under the guise of a "war on drugs." Nonsense. There is no war on drugs. Drug addiction is a medical condition and should be treated as such. If this idea had been adopted, our country could have saved billions of dollars that has been wasted on guns and wars used against poor people in other countries. And our massive prison population includes way too many young non-white people whose only crime is that they liked to get high.

7. End Racism. This went way beyond the minimal rights acquired during the 1950s civil rights movement. The Woodstock Generation promoted the idea that all people were equal, were the same, and should and must live together in peace. This included the idea that black and white or hispanic or Asian people should date, marry, form families without regard to racial or ethnic identities. This was an idea that was considered shocking to much of the country at that time.

(Huey P. Newton, Black Panther Party. The members of the Black Panther Party, standing in defense of their communities, were framed, imprisoned, assassinated, and exterminated by an illegal program of the U.S. government known as Cointelpro.)

8. Equality For Women. Again, this was a radical concept. Through the 1950s and early 1960s, women had to belong to some man, provide unpaid slave labor for life to a man and to however many children her body turned out, in order to have a place in society. Women had few opportunities to work or earn a living, often had no birth control, had no legal rights to prevent their husbands from beating them. Divorced women were considered whores and single women past a relatively young age were considered spinsters, completely banished from the rest of society. No options for women. The Woodstock Generation promoted the idea that all people, regardless of gender or race, are equal, and should have equal opportunities.

(Angela Davis)

9. Create And Nourish Community. It had already become apparent that the single family suburban neighborhood was destroying community. Imagine people living in cubicles, not even knowing their neighbors, working in cubicles and being prohibited from even speaking with their co-workers. I worked on a lawsuit once in which a worker was fired by a big retailer which claimed she was guilty of "theft." Based on that charge of criminal behavior, the worker was even denied unemployment compensation. But it turns out that the only "crime" the employee had committed was that she spoke with a co-worker during working hours, asked how her week-end went. The company's employee handbook said any conversations among co-workers unrelated to work were considered to be "theft" of company time.

People have no community, live in isolation, and they therefore have no power. How can people organize to protect their own rights or their community when they don't even know who lives right down the street?

(Grateful Dead)

10. No Nukes. If only this idea had been pursued at the time, think how different the world might be today. Because the right-wing took control of our country, they promoted the widespread distribution of nuclear weapons to our "friends," which now means we live every day within minutes of having the entire world annihilated by some moron, either in a cave or in a government office.

11. Recycle. Stop Consuming. Stop filling the ocean and the earth with crap. Re-use. The U.S. corporations hate the idea of people using their own independent judgment to decide that they will not spend their lives buying the crap sold to them by the corporations.

12. Free Love. It is not the place of the government or the "community" to dictate to other adults when they may have sex, with whom, or in what manner. It is also not the place of the government or the community to dictate to other adults whether they may use birth control (as late as the 1960s, some states still made birth control illegal) or whether, or when to have children.

13. Workers Rights. The Woodstock Generation marched and demonstrated and boycotted along with the United Farm Workers to demand that all workers get a decent paycheck, have safe working conditions, healthcare, decent pensions, vacations and holidays.

14. Freedom And Independence For Other Nations. The Woodstock Generation promoted the view that all people are entitled to be free and independent, to run their own countries without interference from other nations. If only these views had been adopted, how different the world would be today.

(Che Guevara, hero of the Cuban revolution.)

In this 44th anniversary of Woodstock, the right-wing fascists who control the media and the Republican party will undoubtedly take this opportunity to ridicule everyone who was part of the Woodstock Generation, and to reaffirm the concept that "real" Americans love war, guns and violence, and hate their neighbors. The Republicans are trying to create a fascist nation, and the Democrats aren't doing much to stop them. The fact is that the Woodstock Generation consisted of true patriots, people who loved this country and democracy, and who were creative and innovative in trying to find new ways for all of us to live in peace in this world. Make Love Not War. No Nukes. Peace.

The Who:

In addition to having important and creative ideas about how to change society and the world to be cooperative instead of combative, there was also a tremendous flourishing of music, film, and fine arts during this time. The idea was that art became fun, a part of people's lives rather than something to be shut away inside museums and judged by a small panel of upper-class white men as to whether the art did or did not have merit. Young people all over the country decided for themselves whether they liked some art and, if they did, collected the reprints and posters and tacked them up all over their rooms. People's art, as it were, shown throughout this post.

During the entire history of the U.S., under or after slavery, it had always been understood that black and white people should live completely separate lives. In the 1950s, blacks spent years demonstrating and marching for such minimal rights as the right to sit down on a public bus, the right to buy food in a restaurant, the right to vote, the right to not be murdered by white men. Black people were often legally prohibited from buying homes other than in "black" neighborhoods, their children were legally prohibited from attending schools with white children, and they were legally prohibited from marrying a white person. Even in states which did not have those laws, segregation was strictly upheld in all classes of society.

The Woodstock Generation took enormous leaps forward on the issue of race, and demanded that all racism, all segregation be ended. This was a radical position at the time. The Woodstock Generation had a view that all people were equal and should live together in one community, in peace. Not that this was necessarily successfully implemented, but just the fact that these people embraced that idea was horrifying to the white men who ran this country.

For example, Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock to wild acclaim. Just a short time later, by the 1980s, under the regime of Ronald Reagan and the white boys who re-took control of our country, a black performer like Michael Jackson had to physically alter his appearance to make himself look white and female, in order to be "acceptable" to be presented to a white audience. Jimi Hendrix didn't appear white or female. He was a hot black man, sexy, publicly celebrating his sexuality, and he was worshipped by many of the young white people who made up the Woodstock Generation.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Remember Aaron Swartz.

Remember Aaron Swartz.  He was the young internet and political activist who advocated having all information free, open and available to the citizens.  After all, information is knowledge, and it should belong to the world.  His "crime" was to download online certain academic papers.  Yawn.  But the Department of Justice decided to destroy him because he was young, bright, dedicated, and committed to transparency in our world.  In a nation in which the government claims everything is a secret, the idea of transparency is horrifying to the people in charge.  So Carmen Ortiz, prosecutor for the DOJ, filed ludicrous charges against Aaron Swartz and threatened to send him to prison for over 30 years.  For posting a few academic papers.  An example would be made of him by ending his life, essentially.  But he did it first, dying at 26 rather than spending the rest of his life in prison.  Another notch on the belt of Carmen Ortiz and Eric Holder, and those to whom they report. 
It is likely that Aaron Swartz has inspired other young people to be courageous in their defense of freedom and of the constitution, of the right of the public to know the truth about what is going on in this country, what is being done by their government.  Those who take the difficult stand of disclosing truth even when they know that to do so, in today's world, is to put a target on their backs.  Literally -- when the President of the United States carries around a Kill List, and adds the names of anyone he wants, with no consequences to him, no possible judicial review, just the complete usurpation of power to murder at will -- then anyone who offends the established order may be killed.  Or kidnapped ("extraordinary rendition" they call it to hide what it really is), tortured, thrown into secret blackhole prisons run by the CIA and their thugs around the world. 
So hats off to these young people of such incredible integrity and courage, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange for publishing the information, Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, all the unknown people throughout the world who stand against tyranny and for freedom. 

"I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul. In my degradation I have not been so degraded but that the sight of you ... has stirred old shadows that I thought had died out of me. Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent for ever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it."  Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. 


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Obama's Big Foreign Policy Speech: Authorize Him To Wage War Everywhere In The World.


Obama's major foreign policy speech today:  he will establish rules for using drones in his assassination program; and he wants congress to revise the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to authorize the U.S. government to use force in "many" smaller battlefields, instead of just Afghanistan.  Very sneaky, scary, horrifying proposal.  The AUMF limited the war to al Queda and those who attacked us on 9/11.  A revision would expand it to authorize permanent war any place in the world.

 A few days ago, an Obama administration official publicly stated that the government's plan was to continue the U.S. Wars Against the Middle East for an additional 20 years -- 30 years total.  Today's speech hid the lead.  Lots of promises to rein in the assassination program, to release some prisoners from Guantanamo, but the lead for this speech is today Obama is officially requesting congress to revise the AUMF which was passed by Congress immediately after 9/11, and authorized war against those who had attacked us on 9/11.  It's obvious that the AUMF has been stretched way beyond what was authorized originally.  Those who attacked us on 9/11, as far as we know, were al Queda, and al Queda was almost wiped out before the U.S. helped strengthen them by sending money and weapons to the al Queda affiliates in Libya and Syria.  Nonetheless, the AUMF is out of gas, and the wars must end.  Everybody involved in the 9/11 attacks has been killed, and it's time to end these wars.

Now what Obama wants Congress to do (and what most of Congress wants to do) is to revise the AUMF to say that the president has the authority to wage war against any individual anywhere, in any country, bomb any country, any time, if he thinks that person might be a threat to the U.S.  This would eliminate the constitutional checks on war, would eliminate the ability of citizens to oppose wars, because the war would simply never end. 

Our constitution does not give the president the authority to take this country into war.  Instead, it specifically states that only congress has the authority to declare war.  Further, the only war authority given to the federal government is to provide for the common defense, which means they must defend this country.  They were not given authority to start wars of aggression against other nations, or to go search the world to try to find a possible enemy,  then start a war wherever that person happens to live.  Permanent war means a permanent elimination of our civil rights as citizens.

This is Obama's biggest move, and the most dangerous one to our nation.  Everybody needs to oppose this and write your senators and representatives to demand that they do not revise or amplify the AUMF, but instead end the wars, end the AUMF, and bring our troops home. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Irish Proclamation, 1916

At the start of Easter Week (the week after Easter Sunday) in Dublin, Ireland, in 1916, a group of Irish people struggling for Irish independence from England read the Irish Proclamation, declaring Ireland to be a free nation.  The English reacted to this announcement with a brutal assault and murdered most of the people involved in the Irish Easter Uprising (or "Rising").  Because of the heroic stand taken by the people on this day, within a few years the Southern Part of Ireland did obtain its independence, although England continues to occupy the Northern part of Ireland.  

Padraig Pearse stood outside the General Post Office in Dublin and read this Proclamation.  Note the reference to the exiled Irish children in America.  Irish people were forcibly removed from their own land for generations, and millions were sent to live in exile because England claimed the land of Ireland for itself.  As a result, there are today 80 million Irish people living in exile, throughout the world. 

Poblacht na h √Čireann (Irish Republic)

The Provisional Government

of the

Irish Republic

To the people of Ireland.

IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty: six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and its exaltation among the nations.

The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.