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MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
A "9-to-5er's" New Year's Revolution

A 9-to-5er’s New Year’s Revolution

by PHILIP FARRUGGIO

OK here’s the deal: I don’t care if you earn $12k or $512k a year, if you work for your bread, then you’re part of the “Silent Majority”. Why silent? Well, take a seat and ponder the state of our America. The President, Congress and mainstream media have been waving the flag, urging Americans to support “Oh What A Lovely War”. The human cost will be tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians/soldiers buried in the sand along with our “low income” volunteer Army. The cost to taxpayers will be between $100-$200 billion, most of it going to the “War Industries”, translated into less spending for real “economic homeland security”. The “salt in the wounds” variable is the possible future extremist terrorism such a war could initiate- perhaps on Main Street America. Methinks any “non defensive’ attack on another sovereign nation will incubate tens of thousands of fanatical suicide bombers.

You 9 to 5er out there who must decide between clothes for your kids or health insurance; who thinks a “night out’ is going to the new Wal-Mart. You 9 to 5er who needs that extra part time job to make the car and mortgage payments, or rental increase. Ya think maybe its time to “get serious’? Ya think maybe its time to really participate in this supposedly wonderful 2 party system? Ok, here’s the dilemma; here’s the reality. Never in the history of this republic has a third party made it. I wish the American experience was such that third parties could succeed. They can’t. Why? Cause the “deck has been stacked”, the “race has been fixed”. It seems the rich guys, the really rich guys who run this country, who own most of the media and the politics, they won’t allow it. Too dangerous and so unnecessary. Why have 3 or 5 or 7 parties out there, running around spouting all kinds of issues, when you can have 2 structured and “semi adversarial” parties who always, in the long run, agree with the rich guys?

Know what? I got the “monkey wrench” right here at my fingertips. Guess what? We, the real “Silent Majority”, we earn about 15% of the total wealth in America, and we encompass about 99% of the population (did you get that?). We have the key right here in our hands. Trouble is, we’re divided, we’re polarized. The rich guys, through the media and the politicians, they have bamboozled us, conned us into thinking that the most important issues Americans face are: abortion rights, gay rights, affirmative action, school prayer, confederate flags, pledge of allegiance, school vouchers, black reparations…

When are you all gonna get it that the only real core issues are about MONEY? The only thing that will turn this economy around, and allow us to finally deal with the aforementioned problems, is the MONEY issue. Third World nations have economic disparities (like ours), not truly democratic ones.

There always has to be a first step. For we the 99%, step one is “realization”. Its time to acknowledge that ALL working Americans are in the same (sinking) boat. We must embrace each other, regardless of earning $12k or $512k a year (a drop in the bucket compared to what the 1% earn). The solution is in the “so called” Democratic Party. If we can get involved, locally, with that party, and DEMAND certain positions be taken, then there is hope- a longshot, but hope. The Republicans, sad to say, are totally beyond redemption – they haven’t “gotten it” for generations.

Form “9 to 5 Democratic Clubs” and meet regularly. Push aside all the petty differences on those “hot button” media generated issues, and focus on the following:

Clean Election Laws Now- lets get money out of politics to assure we 99% a chance to succeed politically. As long as money factors into the process, the rich guys will use it to maintain the status quo. Example: In the progressive minded state of Oregon, the drive for “universal healthcare” reached a ballot initiative. Well, the insurance lobby outspent the advocates by over 20 to 1 and the public were conned into believing “half truths’ and innuendoes, thus defeating an innovative and bold concept.

Lower Tax Rates for the 99%- imagine how ludicrous, in these times, to have a top tax bracket capping at $140k a year in income. We should be demanding that the top bracket cap at One Million, and any income over that be taxed at Double the current top rate (38%). For all the rest of us earning less than one million a year, lets cut the current rates by ONE HALF. Think of all the income our treasury will obtain from those super rich, and think of all the extra money 99% of us will still have in our pockets. Then, and only then, consumer spending, what the “mainstream” economists track so intently, will really take off. Think of all the new homes that current renters will be able to afford. Think of all the new cars to be purchased, new clothes, televisions, computers, appliances- influencing a chain reaction of increased employment in sectors.

Higher tariffs on any product not manufactured within U.S. territorial boundaries. Take that Nike and all the rest of you corporate sharks.

Tax Corporations at 1960′s rates- perhaps then the stockholders will cease allowing the obscene amounts of wealth that CEOs and top management earn. Plus, the U.S. would have actual surpluses to justify tax cuts for all individuals, even the super rich!

One Year Moratorium on Foreign Aid- lets stop all foreign aid, excepting emergency aid (food and medicine) for one year. The hundreds of billions kept here at home would be used to rebuild America’s roads, schools, mass transit and housing. It would help jump-start Universal Medicare for all Americans and lower pharmaceutical costs. Plus, it would send a signal to the world that America is not the “cash cow” anymore.

Cease and Desist any Preemptive Military Action Anywhere! There should be an outcry against this war with Iraq, or one with North Korea. We now know that such wars will cost us HUNDREDS of BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars, ruining any chance this nation has to experience true economic recovery. As mentioned in the opening to this commentary, the loss of lives and future lives (through increased terrorism) is highly immoral and just plain foolish. Let’s finally have the courage to cut the military spending, cut the armaments sales, and stop maintaining bases throughout the world. Not only is their cost astounding, but with 21st century space age technology, most of those bases are unnecessary. All they do is “piss off” the natives of those countries. Hey, you there in Iowa City, would you like a Kenyan air force base in your town?

As it is, in America less than 50% of eligible voters participate. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know why. The time has come for all working folk, we “9 to 5ers”, to extend ourselves a bit and get active. Let’s form those clubs and discussion groups. Let’s make our voices heard. Why shouldn’t we- after all, we are the MAJORITY, let’s act like one!

Philip A Farruggio is a baby boomer Brooklyn NY born bred and educated (Brooklyn College ’74), Currently, he resides in Florida and is self employed as a mfg. rep for an environmental bacteria company. He can be reached at brooklynphilly@aol.com