Lisa Longo

15Oct/140

Why I Am A Fiscal Conservative

Why I Am A Fiscal Conservative

Author: July 17, 2012 9:13 pm

Who me? Really. Absolutely. I am all for a balanced budget and enhanced national security. I think we need to absolutely balance our budget, by passing legislation, for example the Fair and Balance Budget Act: for every dollar we gift a corporation as a subsidy, one dollar to education. For every dollar to defense, one to health & welfare. Every dollar to fossil fuel companies, one to renewable energy companies. And every dollar to animal based agriculture, one to plant-based. Now that is a balanced budegt.

And that is why I believe the only true conservative and responsible national policy is health care reform that will be self-funding. How? First, we must resolve ourselves to the reality of a national health care system. And we must accept the need for federal guidelines on wages for all public service employees, including teachers, police, firefighters, doctors, nurses, hospital staff & technicians, and most importantly, congressional members and their staff. Same pay, same benefits. Except combat troops, who would be paid double when in harm’s way.

That’s right, let’s use the same pay scale, based upon education, experience and performance for all public employees. I’d also add a phase out for anyone with a certain amount of passive income. They would opt out of all publicly funded pensions, and receive nominal compensation, based upon the amount of annual passive income they receive.

Second, change Social Security to the Social Security, Health and Education fund. Simple changes to our current social security funding mechanism will allow us to fully fund Social Security, health care and education. First, raise the wage base for the payroll tax to $5,000,000, or do away with the wage base altogether. This has the added benefit of taking away the tax welfare incentive for excessive executive compensation. We create the Social Security, Health & Education fund, establishing an endowment that will self-fund the administrative costs, and allow for cost increases over time. The fund will not be managed by an Investment Bank per se, but by a public non-profit that will invest the funds for the public good and manage returns in the public interest.

Third, we will ensure the balanced budget is resolved by utilizing current tax law and not by establishing any new taxes. First, we will limit tax deductions for executive compensation & benefits to average employee compensation and tax the excess as a dividend. Next, we will limit tax deductions for travel & entertainment to federal per diem, again taxing the excess as a dividend.

This is how our system worked for decades, until Reagan and his “democratization of money”, that was the beginning of the end. (See my earlier essay, How Trickle Down Theory Is Ruining Our Schools And Closing Our Libraries, Thank You Ronald Reagan)
Last, each of us must resolve to contribute not only financially via taxes, but intellectually to our political system. We must fight to add civics, ethics, government, economics and public policy classes as requirements at every level of education.

We need to ensure participation in our democratic process by addressing low voter turnout and working to increase the number of voters at every level. We need to become a citizen lobby and remember, this country was founded by community organizers. We need to draft legislation to protect our rights, for example, in order to protect our civil rights and constitutionally mandated 2nd amendment rights, we need to ensure adherence to the spirit of the law, and ensure the right to bear arms is equated with an educated and registered “militia,” by insisting gun owners register as a part of an actual militia, like the National Guard for training and annual license.

There is not a dichotomy in my stance as a socially liberal progressive fiscal conservative feminist. So go ahead, call me a fiscal conservative. I welcome it.

28Sep/140

The True Cost of Cheap Sh$t

How does the economy work and what does the minimum wage have to do with anything? Well, it is a very simple, and a very complicated, question.

Let’s start with the simple part.

I’ve done a talk called “The True Cost of Cheap Sh$t”, and in it, I use the example of socks.

You can buy a bag of a dozen socks at a big box store like a Wal-Mart, for $11.64. That is less than $1 per pair. Now, to maintain those low, low prices, Wal-Mart has to have some basic policies so they can afford to profit while selling such cheap socks. The people who work at Wal-Mart therefore can’t make very much, many make just above minimum wage and many don’t have health care, sick or vacation days, pensions or other benefits.

So how do they do it? And how do their employees live on that low wage? Well, this is where it gets a little complicated, the cost for the low wages, and those low, low prices, are paid by taxpayers, to the tune of $6.2 BILLION a year. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2014/04/15/report-walmart-workers-cost-taxpayers-6-2-billion-in-public-assistance/)

So wow, those socks just got pretty expensive didn’t they?

Now let’s look at the alternative. A pair of organic cotton socks made in the USA, and let’s say they are $6.00 per pair. (http://www.ameliasorganic.com/products/5-x-2-marl-crew). They are likely of a much better quality, and will last longer, so you really don’t need to buy 12, you might be able to get buy with just 6, making the total $36.

Now, the employees who work for a company like this likely make more than the minimum wage, would have medical and other benefits and save taxpayers those billions we have to pay for the low, low prices at Wal-Mart. So, no $6.2 billion in annual welfare needed here.

Let’s figure out the true cost of those cheap socks. Each of the estimated 138 million US taxpayers has to pay an annual tax of $44.93 to cover just the costs we subsidize Wal-Mart for welfare to its workers. And by some estimates various forms of corporate welfare entitlement s cost taxpayers $3,000 to $4,000 each per year. So those socks you thought were less than a dollar? They don’t seem so cheap now do they?

Even those of us who don’t shop at Wal-Mart pay the price for their low prices. So, tell me what is the true cost of cheap sh$t? We haven’t even begun to factor in the societal costs, loss of dignity, lower standard of living, decreased longevity, raging income inequality. That is going to take a much longer blog. But just in the loss of human dignity and humanity, I’d say the cost of cheap sh$t is actually incalculable and much too expensive.

16Sep/140

What A Wonderful Day That Will Be

Another pipeline is leaking and people are being evacuated. More land is being contaminated.

Meanwhile, the Scotland Independence vote of course has drilling & extraction at its core. And the money I bet that is fueling that most, is right from the fossil fuel fools.

Here at home we have kids without books, winter coming and they don't have coats. We have Vets killing themselves and the mentally ill allowed to buy guns and unlimited ammo.

Meanwhile our friends on the right keep telling us the problem is poor people, never mind that they created the great vast poverty that engulfs us. Never mind that the poverty wage they bestow upon their corporate sponsors is costing taxpayers trillions and creating an inequality that is killing the American dream.  Never mind that they refuse to lower interest rates, forgive debt or help the people, they are too busy helping the rich, they need another tax break or they won't not create any jobs.

They don't care, because the election comes and people everywhere say, oh, but that's politics. What do I care? The game is coming on, be quiet. Or I have to work. I'm too busy. I don't care. My vote doesn't matter. The system is broken. Its all corrupt. Why should I bother?

And so we all dig deep in our pockets to help the poor, the hungry, the ill and the aged. Keeping our own economies unequal, never mind the right shoveling our cash to the rich, they have to have tax breaks they tell us, to create jobs, as we watch the middle class disappear.

My feelings turn to despair, which in turn creates in me an anger and I begin to despise the superficial arrogance of the many for ignoring what the few are doing right in front of them. Because make no mistake, this is going on RIGHT in front of you.

When all of you are really as sick of this as you say, you will rise up and take back what is yours. Your money, your homes, your savings, your children's futures. Our land, water and air.

The real revolution happens every year on election day. And one day, I'm going to see millions of American's finally realize that we had the power all along and act accordingly.

What a wonderful day that will be.

Filed under: We Start Here No Comments
20Jul/140

Let it Go

frozen-elsa-imageWhat if we all let go of hate and fear? What if we embraced kindness and compassion? What if today we found our inner hero and we were all brave enough to stand our ground for what we know what is right? What if we all decided to change the world? What if right now, as you read this, you realize that you have the power to change everything? What if we come together and develop a strategy to create the world we want to see? What if we realize we are the heroes of this story, not the victims?

What does that look like? What would we do? How do we get started? We have to ask some hard questions of ourselves. What is right? What is moral? How do we want to live? And what are we willing to do to create the world we want? Are we willing to do the work it will take? Are we willing to fight for what we know is right? I’m sick of doing the same things and expecting a different result. That is the definition of insanity. We’ve let the old, rich white men have their turn, and frankly, their way sucks. It is time to try a new way.

And I’m not going to ask what you are willing to die for, death is inevitable, the goal is to prolong life not take it away.

What are some other goals we can agree on? And how do we make them reality? It is time to not only think and talk about these ideas, it is time to make them reality. The old ways of guns and bombs don’t work. We have to change that paradigm. And I think it starts by us taking the high road. It is basing our actions and policy on kindness and compassion, not hate and fear. It is acting, regardless of race or religion, party or politics, on common values. It is time to have a war on ignorance, fear and hate.

What are our common values? Can we start with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Can we all agree that caring for the poor, sick, aged and children is morally correct and a common good? Can we agree that preserving life is important?

Because here is the thing, our time on this planet in this incarnation is limited. We are all going to die. There is no doubt, and yet we are wasting our time, our lives, spinning our wheels just surviving instead of living. We are allowing our time to be constrained and constricted, our days to be numbered. Why are we still worried about making ends meet when we know we are all going to meet our end at some unspecified date that is not far enough away for any of us?

It may well be that the meaning of life is figuring this out: how to live. Could it really be that simple? Have we been overlooking the obvious answer to this age old question? The meaning of life is to live. Not to exist. And certainly not to allow existence to be only about subsistence. The meaning of life is to improve the lives of everyone.

Wow. That felt like an epiphany.

Now for the hard part. What is stopping us? What is keeping us from creating the world we know is possible? What does that world look like? And what are the forces working against us?

What is stopping us? Fear. Apathy. And the people who have invested heavily in the current system. Those would be mostly the rich, old white men who have amassed great fortunes and who are cackling with mad glee as they fly their private jets or sail on their yachts to their offshore tax havens while they convince people it is all for their own good, anything else is communism, socialism, class warfare and you are not a patriot if you question the status quo. It is whatever their spinmasters cook up that day to convince people that this system of income inequality is inevitable.

There is more than enough money in the world for everyone to live above poverty levels. That is a fact. Our motive power created that. And now it is time for us to remember, this is all ours. Life itself is our most precious commodity, not their oil or guns, we aren’t here to protect their way of life. We have to let go of outmoded thinking and outdated policy. Guns and bombs, tax breaks for billionaires, fracturing our planet for profit. Those are the old way. And it is time to retire them.

What are the forces working against us? I think the most powerful force stopping us is us. This feeling that we are victims of some great “other”. That this is being done to us, but not by us. The mistaken belief that our actions have no meaning. The constant refrain that you “can’t beat City Hall”. Well yes, we can. And we must. But first we have to overcome the fear and apathy. That is the real weapon that is destroying us.

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself”. Aren’t we ready to be done with that?

And guess what? We have the one thing that no money can buy, our votes. This is the weapon we have that can destroy the old paradigm. This is how we fund our schools and care for our Veteran’s. It is how we honor our aged and care for our children.

We can create a world based on kindness and respect, compassion and caring, or we can continue to allow the old guard to plunder our world to protect their way of life while taking ours. It is time to let that go. Just let it go.

I’m ready to make my stand. Are you? Are you ready to let it go?

29Jun/140

Slavery Is Alive and Well In the USA

Does that surprise you? Did you think slavery was abolished hundreds of years ago when the Civil War ended? Really? Why? Because the history books told you so? But is that what you see? Do you see a free and equal society? A land of opportunity for all? A land of the free and home of the brave as the Founders foresaw? Have we created a society where “ALL men are created equal”? Really? Do you see a world that our Founders would be proud of? Because I don’t.

What I see is a system based on inequality. I see inequality growing with the creation of institutions like for-profit prisons and privatized for-profit public schools. I see inequality growing from corporate subsidies and tax gifts to private companies while we cut and gut public programs like education. And I see this growing inequality as a form of institutionalized modern slavery.

Why? How did we get here? Was this what the Founders intended? I doubt it. So how did this happen? How, and why, have we allowed institutionalized slavery in our modern society?

I believe it is apathy. Too many people giving up, that is the problem. I think we need to fight for our freedom now, just as we did then. And the war now is the funding of our schools and the education of our children. It is being fought in legislative battles to increase the minimum wage and protect our environment. And it is being fought by those of us trying to stop the tax gifts and tax welfare entitlements to the wealthy, to corporations, and on a local level, to private real estate developers.

I am going to pose some questions to you today, some may be difficult to answer and some may be unpleasant to ponder, but I am going to ask you to do this all the same, and I am going to ask you to take action. I’m going to ask you to remember why this country was founded. And I am going to ask you to stand up for our principles of freedom and democracy. Safeguarding our system and providing a better future is part of the deal the Founders expected of us, and I believe it is our moral responsibility to fight this battle.

So here goes, let’s get started with a few questions, first, how is our current system different from the Plantation Economy of years ago? How are the lives of students indebted for decades or those of the tens of millions living in poverty while a few control the wealth of the world any different from the slave economy from those long ago days? Haven’t we simply created a new class of slaves?

We may no longer be chattel, but I have no illusions, for most people on this planet, our lives are owned and controlled by a few hundred very rich men who have no intention of giving up their wealth and power just so the rest of us can have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Why would they? Less than 30% of us show up on most Election Days, so those in power feel pretty secure in the system of corporate slavery they have created. Locally that percentage is even lower, and few people pay attention when our tax dollars are gifted to private profiteers in the name of “progress”.

So what if a local Council votes to give a private developer a tax gift of millions? (See What is LERTA?) They know people won’t blame the future increase in real estate and school taxes on that reality. Oh no, “they” will blame “out of control” spending, greedy teachers and public pensions. What a scam.

And the fact that corporations are gifted billions of our tax dollars every day while our national debt increases? Who pays for that? And why? From the fossil fuel industry to Wal-mart, they are allowed to pay wages that create poverty and endanger public health, and yet millions of people continue to support these corporations, spending billions every year on their slave made products, war supplied oil, and earth fracturing gas.

Why should these corporations change their ways when they have our means? Who is paying attention? They take our motive power and our money and convert both into more wealth for themselves. Millions of people are sitting home, convinced the system is broken, so they don’t bother to vote. They know something is wrong, but they don’t know how to fix it. And why don’t they? Where would they get that knowledge? Well, wouldn’t you think teaching Civics and Public Policy would be the job of our schools? And why aren’t schools teaching this?

Ask yourself this, who benefits from defunding education? Why do we spend millions of our tax dollars on athletics for the few while gutting academic programs for the many? Who is more likely to speak out and create change, the captain of the debate team or the captain of the basketball team? And yes, I know there are plenty of civically minded athletes, I am trying to make a larger point about how we fund programs. Do you really think the Founders thought football was more important than Philosophy?

Oh, the mad men in charge are laughing all the way to their offshore banks because their children go to the best colleges, many of which are now “tuition-free” or offer large grants from their “endowments”. Their kids aren’t graduating saddled with debt, starting their adult lives already indentured to the banks. Oh no, their kids either have trust funds (which we subsidized), scholarships (also subsidized) or get “free” tuition (yes, we subsidize that too).

Oh, you didn’t know that? This is a big part of the scam, college debt. Our kids are forced into a life of indebtedness or told that going to college isn’t “necessary”, while the best schools are offering “free” educations to the children of the rich and powerful. Why do you think that is? Why are subsidizing the slave wages and environmental degradation their excessive profits require but not the education of all our children?

I’ll tell you why, apathy. While you sit home and bitch but refuse to vote or go to meetings, the rich are sending their children to college and flying their private jets to their private islands to hide the profits made with our public tax dollars, all subsidized by your slave labor and condoned by your apathy.

And all the trolls ready to screech and type in all caps that I am a SOCIALIST. That our Founding Fathers would shoot me on the spot. That I am some liberal, feminazi, communist, ignorant, low information voter. Get a grip. Read what the Founders really thought about funding public education.

So what can you do? You can show up. You can question what is going on. You can understand that this country was founded on the expectation of citizen engagement. You can remember that our Founders were community organizers and rabble-rousers, and that they didn’t guarantee us freedom, they gave us the right to pursue it.

Isn’t it time for us to insist on our right to education for all? Let’s get started. Let’s insist on FREE public education. Right through college as the Founders intended.

Please review the petition on Moveon.org to insist on free education for all. As the Founders intended. Sign on here, and please share.

15Jun/140

The Long Con: How Conservative Ideology Became a Con

Does anyone actually still believe the words “trickle-down theory” have any valid meaning? Is anyone buying into this fiction that increasing the minimum wage would ruin our economy but multi-million dollar executive salaries don’t increase prices at all? Has any republican ever truly explained why the free marketeer “job creators” had a decade of “small government less taxes” that nearly pushed our economy into collapse but failed to create a single job? Have they ever been able to explain why their hawkish, bullish insistence on bombing and invading countries has never actually provided increased national security? Or how extreme extraction and export of fossil fuels will never lead to energy independence?

I’ll tell you why they won’t, because they can’t. Why not? Because it is all a con. A scheme. A grifters game. It is a sham. And one I don’t think even republicans believe in anymore. I believe it is deliberate, well planned and strategic. This isn’t just bad policy, it is a scam.
And that is why it is time to call conservatives what they truly are – cons. Cons as in con artists. Grifters, scammers. This isn’t a difference between two ideologies. This is a fight between those who want to protect our way of life and those who want to hoard it for a few hundred rich people while the rest of us struggle to get by.

It is woefully apparent what conservatives are up to now. They use convoluted reasoning to contest every reasonable idea. They try to control the conversation and lead us down the garden path of conservative ideology, which often just leads to empty space, much like an empty concrete lot, or a bridge to nowhere. The cons have nothing constructive to add. They won’t consider another point of view and they certainly aren’t going to contribute toward compromise.

They have invested considerable time, money and angst into this scam, and they aren’t going to give it up without a fight. Enter the “tea” “party” “darlings”, the Koch funded, ALEC scripted, NRA protected experts at convoluted thinking and absolute obstructionists.

Their end game is to force their ideology on the rest of. And they do it by convincing people that this is really a good thing, that somehow, someway, someday, despite all evidence to the contrary, eventually, their con policy will bring them considerable rewards and wealth. It is your basic Ponzi scheme. It is a long con.

What is the long con? It is a long term strategy that can be kept in place over a period of time to convince a mark, or in this case taxpayers, that a scam, for example “small government less taxes”, is beneficial to them, when in fact, it is not.

According to Leverage Wiki:

The long con refers to any of a variety of cons which require more planning, preparation, a longer window of interaction with the con's target and a longer period of time to execute. The long con may also require a large crew or a larger number of involved people to pull off the deception needed to relieve the mark of their cash or other valuables. Unlike a short con, the long con requires time to slowly draw the mark or marks into the con, but often results in very large pay-outs. Because of the difficulty in organization and execution, long cons are considered to be for experts, not the province of new, young con men.

This long con has been in place for about 30 years according to my research and really came to fruition during the Reagan Administration.

What are the specific aspects of the long con ideology:

  1. Rich people paying less taxes will put more money into the pockets of the working poor and middle class.
  2. Less taxes on corporations will create jobs
  3. Welfare costs more than defense spending and poverty is not a problem.
  4. There is not enough money to fund public education.
  5. Protecting the environment is bad for the economy.
  6. Republicans are better at national security.
  7. Republicans are better at economic policy.
  8. Increasing the minimum wage will hurt business, but excessive executive compensation does not.
  9. Republicans have a right to inspect our uterus but we don’t have a right to inspect their guns.
  10. Government is bad and therefore we are going to elect the worst people we can find to convince you of that.

 

Seriously? Does anyone buy this into this crap?

We are seeing some real change. Seattle for instance, increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour. That is going to really test the con theory. Because basic math tells me that more money in the hands of those who will spend it is a good thing. What will happen is there will be more incentive for workers, creating a demand for a highly skilled and motivated work force. It will also put a lot more money into the local economy creating a demand for more products and services, creating more jobs, creating more opportunity. Which creates more demand, more jobs, more opportunity, see how that works?

Any word from the cons on how supply side economics works? No? I didn’t think so.
This is a major and very important difference between the economic theory that Democrats believe and that which the cons put their faith in. We believe that demand creates prosperity, jobs and opportunity, as has been proven time and time again and is documented in economic data. We can prove our point with facts and historical documentation. Cons on the other hand believe supply creates wealth. How, they can't tell us, why it would work against all logic they don't know and how long it takes they can't say, but they are sure it will eventually "trickle-down" to create jobs and wealth. Just don’t ask them for any details, because if you do, you obviously are not a “patriot”.

So far the only thing the cons have been partially successful at is privatization. I mean, for-profit prisons are profitable. And for-profit charter schools. All that school testing is creating lots of profit. Two wars created trillions in profit for all those subcontractors. Just no money for our Vets or to secure our embassies.

All we have to do is allow the cons to launder our public funds into private profit, and viola, trickle –down profits, well, for their corporate persons, there is still no money for schools or welfare. And I know, that is not what the cons promised, but well, don’t blame them, they never promised us a rose garden. That was Obama. All that hope & change. The cons just want more of the same. And if you aren’t on board with that, well then obviously you are a communist. Or is it a socialist? The cons are never really clear on which, but obviously, we’re not good corporate persons like the ones who pay their bills. And really if you just stop asking so many pesky questions and go watch the World Cup or Stanley Cup or some other sport it will all make more sense because you will stop asking questions the cons simply won’t answer.

So what is the long con? It is convincing you that our schools are broken, “they” hate us for our freedom, drilling is a reasonable solution to climate change, banks are important but schools are not, bombs are the way to peace and climate change is a hoax. It is saying taxes are bad but corporate tax subsidies are good. It is the claim that corporations are people and the death penalty is a sensible solution to prison overcrowding, and guns can’t be inspected but a woman’s uterus must be.

The long con is all the lies, the privatization of our post offices, prisons and schools. It is arresting the poor while the rich laugh all the way to their offshore banks. It is buying into this greed mentality and the stupidity that intellectualism is bad and education unnecessary. And if you don’t believe me, just ask a con for some context. And then sit back for the long con.

28May/140

Caged No More

My mom told me the news that Maya Angelou had died and immediately my mind flew to her most well know title, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Why did this poem resonate with so many of us?

Why? Because we felt like caged birds. The 1% caged us, kept us in debt, in poverty, and in ignorance. They did this by forcing upon us a lifestyle that lacked many things. A lack of health care, a lack of food, lack of security, lack of birth control, lack of disposable income, lack of child care, a lack of options, a lack of affordable, quality public education, a lack of mobility and a lack of civility. We are not only the have nots, we are now a nation of lackers.

We are not slackers. We are not lazy, or stupid, fat, ignorant or dependent. We have been lied to, manipulated, marginalized and manhandled. And we should all be livid.

We should be that bird with the fearful trill, making noise and escaping that cage to soar. Instead too many seem to relish the cage, or ignore it. But I am going to expose those bars. I am going to force you to acknowledge they exist, to honor this woman who made me see, living in a cage is not a life worth living.

We are on the edge of being caged no more, of taking that leap to freedom, and I want to be free. And I want you to be free. I want my daughter to be free. I want us all to be free.

I am sick and tired of all those who shrug and say, oh well, this is just  the way the world is.

NO. No it is not. This is the way the world has been disfigured and manipulated. The way we have been forced to work against our own best interest. I don't accept it. I won't be quiet so others can feel better about their own caged existence.

When children die from starvation or gun violence, when girls are raped and kidnapped, shot and held captive. When our boys think the only way out is to play violent games either on the sports field or on the video screen, we have done it all wrong. Our boys are both captive and captor, while our girls are both victimized and traumatized; too afraid to leave the comfort of the cage they created, or trading it in for another one made for them by someone else.

It is time to stop accepting the caged life created by others, and start defending our way of life, the one we want for ourselves, our children, and our freedom. We aren't here to provide consumers to corporations or money to the rich. We are here to live.

I invite you to join me in breaking the bars of these cages. Join me in refusing to live in this constructed contemptible cage created by the craven cowards while they hide in their mansions and yachts, hoarding their money in offshore accounts.

Join me in song. Join me in celebration. Join me in revolution.  Farewell Ms. Angelou, and thank you for this call to action. For I too know why the caged bird sings, she sings to bring awareness. She sings to give courage and she sings to be change.

11May/140

We Are All Recycled Stardust

Wh75142_4393654732167_593106681_nat is life? What is death? What happens to our life after our death? Do we go on? Are we still here? Is there an afterlife? A heaven? A hell? What is it that happens in that instant when this life ends?

I spend significant amounts of time pondering these questions, and once again, this week, the death of a loved one reminds me of all the questions I’d like to ask:

Did you have any warning? Did you see a bright light? Was there a long tunnel? Did your whole life flash before your eyes? What did you see? What happens next? Can you really see us? Are you still there? Do you get to see all those who died before you? Do you get to choose to stay dead or reincarnate?

And then my questions tend to devolve into the absurd: Is there a gate? What does it look like? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Is there a line? Is this really just one iteration of many possible planes of possibility? If there is an afterlife, do you get to pick the age you want to be?

I mean really, are you stuck in the age you were when you died? Do you have to pick one age, or can you be any age just by wanting to be that age? I wonder what happens, but not enough to hurry along to finding out. I’m just fine with the uncertainty for a while longer.

I imagine what it is that happens. I had this vision the other night: I see a burst of energy, swirling in the ether as you race to your next destination. Forming and reforming your essence. An undying mass of energy. Ironically it looks a lot like a million tiny pinpricks of light. Tiny stars twinkling happily. Your energy finding its way to another iteration of a life well lived. I see you boldly pushing yourself to the next level. Finding out what is beyond the abyss of death.

Those tiny pinpricks of light are all we really are. We are all recycled stardust. Our bodies the imperfect vessel that navigates this physical world. Our energy, that spark which literally sparks life itself, and remember this, energy can never be destroyed. No, not even in death. Energy continues. Energy is timeless. Energy is endless. Energy is boundless. Energy does not die. Ever.

And yet, I can imagine those reading this thinking, but, people die. Yes, people die. That is the imperfect vessel, our body, the body dies. But our energy, well that simply goes on. Forever.

And think about it, people spend years developing elaborate, detailed explanations and fantasies about what happens after death when really we have been told by science what happens.

I believe it is simple. Our energy is returned to the universe and in time will reform into a new being. We are not dust or ashes, we are protons, neurons and everlasting energy.

We rock, we roll, we fight, we get lost and then are found. We love, hate and are indifferent, all the while forgetting that tomorrow we might not be here. From first breath to last, we are an energy mass on a collision course with death. But remember, we are all recycled stardust, and that is going to last forever.

Your life will resonate through each successive generation. Your DNA passed down the line. Our stories and memories given to the next generation to protect and in turn, pass on.

I can hear you my friend, as if you were here, telling us not to be sad. Though you would know our tears are for us, because we will miss you in this life.

4May/140

What’s The Matter Here?

I’m tired. Inside and out. Mentally. Physically. I’m drained. It isn’t any one thing. It is the pile of things I have to do. From campaigning, to laundry, cleaning, writing, making calls, grocery shopping, gardening, finding time to exercise and of course, working.

I am lucky, I really enjoy my work. It is a truly satisfying and enjoyable way to earn my living. But then, I started thinking about that phrase, earning a living. Why do some of us have to do that and not others?

So I’ve had this recurring thought in my head all week: why are there some people with so much money they don’t have to work? How did that happen? Did you know the Founding Fathers did not believe in allowing wealth to be accumulated over generations? That “death” tax the republican’s love to complain about? Some of the Founders believed it should be 100%.

You see, our Founding Fathers had a theory, at death a person’s accumulated wealth should revert to the country that gave them the ability to accumulate said wealth, you know, because none of us built that without government assistance of some kind. So, thanks Obama.

But just like the perversion on the reading of the 2nd amendment, republicans have managed to change the entire conversation, they make a “death” tax a bad thing and socialist while insisting that actual socialist welfare being given to corporations who suddenly are “persons” and have the right to use money as “free speech” is a good capitalist “free” market principle. Spoiler alert, it is not.

I’m hoping the Founders come back and haunt the whole lot of them.

So, how did we allow this world to be? How is it we have children dying of starvation in some places and $500 cheeseburgers in others and we allow any politician to cut $1 from funds for food stamps or welfare programs while they insist corporations are entitled to tax welfare? How?

And it is not only that. It is the stupidity of having a minimum wage that creates poverty and protects private profits over people. It is allowing schools that can’t afford to educate our students and colleges our children can’t afford to attend to become better educated.

It is having an energy policy that creates economic instability domestically and does nothing to protect our national interests or national security.  We have a skewed system, and we are the ones who are getting screwed.

From national to local, we see the same simple-minded slogans used to convince people that government is bad, and therefore big government must be really bad. We have elected people who seem invested in blocking everything, and then people say they are discouraged by this “do nothing” Congress so they won’t bother to vote next time. Because that makes no sense whatsoever.

Seriously, it makes my head hurt.

Consider what is happening locally. We have an ordinance the Borough Council passed giving away millions in taxes to private real estate developers, they say this was necessary to bring development.  Why? This is the LERTA, the local economic revitalization tax abatement. I have two issues with this, first, this is meant to bring commercial development and second, our town is now a booming place, named one of the best places to live in PA and a “classic” town. So why are we trying to bribe developers? They want to come here. If we can limit the LERTA to strictly commercial, i.e. business, not rental residential which get classified as commercial, or to low-income or senior housing, this might not be a terrible thing. But to allow it to be used for residential without limits, that is just silly. Why would we allow that? Go read the ordinance, it was meant to increase commercial development. So why is Council trying to approve expansion for residential development?

And we need to be aware, once the LERTA is approved we have no control over what gets built. As a matter of fact one development approved by the LERTA that was supposed to be commercial now has 275 condos and only 20,000 square feet of commercial. All those extra people in town, who is going to pay for the additional services needed? Police? Firefighters? Streets? There is going to be a cost.

So, who pays for that? Well, we do of course. And then who bitches when their taxes go up so some developer could make a few extra millions in profit? Yes, of course, we all do. So why aren’t more people fighting this? Beats me. I only happened to hear about it when I attended a Council meeting on the Graffiti Ordinance, another questionable policy decision if you ask me. Which I guess since you are reading my blog you are interested in my opinion.

So what really is the matter here? How did we get here in this skewed environment where natural gas commercials tell me fracking is “safe” and the news tells me nothing at all? No one shows up. No one understands what is going on or the implications. And without a strong and questioning public, these are the policies getting pushed through.

Another example, the geothermal system at the proposed new $80 million dollar “secondary campus” and sport facility.  When the district announced this school, they were quite clear that it would be built with sustainable principles and renewable energy. Many of us only supported this expenditure because of that. But did you know the district is now saying that geothermal, with an additional cost of $1 million according to their engineer who is not an expert on geothermal, is “too much” while the $9 million on sports fields is totally reasonable? Really? Does that make any sense? The district has not even allowed a single geothermal company to weigh in on this decision or provide an analysis. They are relying on a company that couldn’t even see the value in doing an analysis. And then they want us to accept this as substantive?

Not a chance. There is a special public meeting on this, May 13th at 5pm. And people, you need to show up. The district is allowing me to do a presentation and question the engineers who prepared the report, but won’t allow me to bring an expert in the field.

This then is the state of our union.

What decisions are being made in your town or school district? How are your tax dollars being spent? What is being done with your money that you don’t know about?

Isn’t it time you found out?

Change is created by those who show up. And not showing up isn’t protest. It is surrender. And that is what is really the matter here. You’ve given up. Or never cared. But either way, don’t blame Obama, or this or that committee. The only promise that was made to us was that we would have freedom, if we could keep it. But you don’t get to dictate terms when you are absent from the process.

So I’ve got a new motto for us, New Hampshire has “Live Free or Die”, how about “Show Up And Create Change”.

It is up to us, isn’t it time you see just how powerful you really are?

27Apr/140

Messages of Renewal

Reject & Protect 006My daughter and I spent yesterday at the Reject & Protect event in Washington, DC. It was a day that will stay with both of us for a very long time. Seeing tribal leaders and ranchers come together out of a common concern for our land & water, it made me realize that we all need to come together, we have to find a way to bridge our differences and find common ground. This is after all our planet, our home. We can certainly work together to protect our land, our water, our rights. Of course we can.

After the event we stopped back at our hotel to get ready for dinner and the after party. Seems while we were painting a tipi to gift to the Museum of the American Indian with messages of hope and renewal, then marching through the streets of DC carrying the tipi to the ceremony, deadbeat rancher Cliven Bundy was making a statement that he believes Nevada is “sovereign” and therefore he has the “right” to allow his cattle to graze without paying fees. Excuse me? I was with leaders of the people who have the only sovereign right to this land.

Reject & Protect Saturday 163Bundy and his band of bullies all belong in jail. So as much as I’d love to say we will work to find a way to find common ground, I know there is no way we can ever build a bridge big enough to reach the Cliven Bundy’s or those who defend the sort of nonsense that brought hundreds of armed fanatics to his ranch. They have gone so far off the deep end that reaching them might just cause the rest of us to slip off that cliff. And I won’t have that.

I won’t ask anyone to try to reason with the unreasonable. Or to explain science to the denier. I am not going to ask you to take the time to attempt logical discourse with the illogically minded. It isn’t helpful.  I have to accept that some people simply don’t want to compromise. So it is time to ignore them. Absolutely. In the big picture, Bundy and his band of bullies mean very little to the rest of us. Although they have shown us one important thing, the far-right wing has lost any ability to be objective, patriotic or rational and should therefore be ignored. They have nothing constructive to contribute.

So it is time to treat them with the derision their delusions deserve. We won’t ever reach the bigots, bullies or the Bundy’s of this world.  And honestly, I don’t think we want to.

I’d rather focus our efforts on creating change as quickly as we can. Speaking to the leaders yesterday it became clear to me that we are on the right path. Developing strategies that explain how conversion to renewable is going to save taxpayers billions is powerful. Building alliances with diverse groups is going to make us strong. And continuing to share our message with legislators is OUR sovereign right. And that is much more powerful than all the fanatics with guns in Nevada.

Reject & Protect Saturday 403On a side note, I was told repeatedly yesterday how amazing it was that my daughter would choose to miss Prom to be at this event. It was a very special moment when the head of Bold Nebraska recognized Sierra and introduced her, and gave her a very special task for the day in acknowledgment for her giving up going to Prom to be a part of this day. It made me realize how little people think of the effectiveness of protest, and how wrong they are. Yes, I was initially surprised when my girl came to me and said she wanted to skip Prom to be in DC. But honestly, after a few minutes of thought, not only was I proud, I realized I should not have been surprised. My daughter has been raised to understand the value and power of protest. She has had this instilled in her; change is created by those who show up. So she wants to show up and be that change. No matter our arguments or disagreements, in the end, this is what it means to be a parent. To see the values we hold in our children, it is everything. So when she came to me a month or so ago and wanted to know why I hadn’t told her about this event, and I told her because it was Prom weekend, her reply to me was all the proof I needed that I had done my job.  She told me of course she wanted to be in DC, hadn’t we been fighting this pipeline for years? Hadn’t I gotten arrested to make people understand the importance of this fight? Hadn’t I told her over and over that showing up means everything?

So here we are. In Washington, DC. Making our stand.

So why is it the Cliven Bundy’s and his little band of hundreds of bullies are all over the news while our protest of over 5,000 is largely ignored? Because we didn’t bring guns and make threats? Because we are trying to reach out using compassion and rational thought? Because the fossil fuel industry has paid billions to the networks for advertising and made sure they don’t give us equal time? Are you okay with that? Are you really okay with your “news” being skewed by the fossil fuel fools?

I hope not. I hope you are ready to join us. Come and be part of this change we are creating. Come and see how powerful we really are.

Reject & Protect 008As always when I come to be a part of an event like this, it has given me a renewal of my resolve, my hope, my purpose. The messages of renewal from tribal leaders and ranchers reminds me why it is a powerful exercise, to take the time to come to Washington, DC and exercise our rights.  I hope in the near future to see you all here too.