Whatever Happened to the Fierce Urgency of Now?


Lincoln defined democracy as government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. We are now faced with a government of the transnational corporate capitalists, by the Democratic and Republican Parties and for the consolidation of wealth in the hands of an elite few. Hardly what Abe had in mind when addressing the loss of America ’s treasure at Gettysburg some seven score and six years ago.

Reagan pushed the deregulation button, told us that government was the enemy of the people and to put our trust in the private sector as he slashed the income tax on the wealthy from 70% to 28%. Bush Sr. went along with the program he had previously labeled “voodoo economics”. Clinton then abandoned traditional democratic principles and led the globalization and outsourcing bandwagon. In addition, he kicked the top tax rate back up to 39.6% from the 31% he inherited and balanced the budget with a surplus. Bush Jr. accelerated privatization, deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy and made the Reagan deficits look puny.

Not content with a bi-partisan foreign policy that over the years had emphasized supporting death squads around the world from Nicaragua and El Salvador to Chile and the Philippines , Bush declared the entire world his battlefield with his moronic War on Terror. Sitting in a cave in Afghanistan , Osama bin Laden said he could bankrupt the U.S. if he could get us to attack a Muslim country. Bush Jr. one upped him by invading two. The Taliban had offered to turn over bin Laden if we didn’t invade Afghanistan . Now 7 ½ years after invading and bin Laden is still sitting in a cave. Of course from the start the Iraq War and occupation was about control of Iraqi oil for the transnational capitalists and control of the Mideast for the American Empire.

With our country at war, our economy ruined by what can only be described as the financial sector’s criminal activity, abetted by the party politicians; we elected the candidate who promised change.

Obama, smart as a whip and with a clear mandate from the American people, chose to surround himself with recycled hacks of bygone administrations. He agreed to end one of the wars, sort of sometime, and to escalate the other. He does not believe it important to hold our previous administration leaders responsible for wars of aggression and torture. He has sided with the Wall Street banks and financial institutions, instead of nationalizing them and prosecuting their CEOs for fraud. He’s pushing for a national healthcare plan. But insists on keeping the insurance industry involved, even though it will cost the American people 30% more than a single payer government run plan would. He does not seem to grasp the simple economic principle that working people need a livable wage now! That decisive government action to guarantee jobs at a livable wage now to those willing to work will do more for the economy than all the stimulus and bailout plans imaginable.

Increase the top tax rate to the 90% range it was under FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy or at the very least the 70% range it was under Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. A wealthy person should be able to make ends meet on say $3 million a year. Have the new top tax rate kick in there so they will be taxed on earnings up to that point like the rest of us. Increase the minimum wage to a livable wage and guarantee government employment. For small business owners who demonstrate that they can’t pay the new livable wage, let the government make up the difference until the business shows that they can support it.

Inequality is anathema to democracy. Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis counseled us on where great disparity in wealth would lead our country “We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few. We cannot have both.”

FDR, who took office in 1933 during The Great Depression, did not push through reforms like Social Security and the Works Project Administration (WPA) until 1935, but he was constantly trying new solutions. Obama is not and if he waits two years before leading us to real social change, he may no longer have the political capital to do so.

Martin Luther King at Riverside Baptist Church in 1967 said “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.” He was calling for an end to the Vietnam War. If he was with us today, wouldn’t he be calling for an immediate end to both foreign wars? Wouldn’t he be calling for a livable wage for workers instead of billions and trillions to the ‘banksters’? Wouldn’t Dr. King be calling for Obama to listen to the American people?

NICK EGNATZ resides in Munster, Indiana, is a Vietnam vet, member of Veterans For Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He was named Northwest Indiana Citizen of the Year 2006 for his peace activism by the National Association of Social Workers and has been published extensively online and by Northwest Indiana newspapers on the issues of peace and the economy. He can be reached at: nickatlakehills@sbcglobal.net

November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”
November 23, 2015
Vijay Prashad
The Doctrine of 9/11 Anti-Immigration
John Wight
After Paris: Hypocrisy and Mendacity Writ Large
Joseph G. Ramsey
No Excuses, No Exceptions: the Moral Imperative to Offer Refuge
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS Thrives on the Disunity of Its Enemies
Andrew Moss
The Message of Montgomery: 60 Years Later
Jim Green
James Hansen’s Nuclear Fantasies
Robert Koehler
The Absence of History in the Aftermath of Paris
Dave Lindorff
The US Media and Propaganda
Dave Randle
France and Martial Law
Gilbert Mercier
If We Are at War, Let’s Bring Back the Draft!
Alexey Malashenko
Putin’s Syrian Gambit
Binoy Kampmark
Closing the Door: US Politics and the Refugee Debate
Julian Vigo
A Brief Genealogy of Disappearance and Murder
John R. Hall
Stuck in the Middle With You
Barbara Nimri Aziz
McDonalds at 96th Street
David Rovics
At the Center of Rebellion: the Life and Music of Armand
Weekend Edition
November 20-22, 2015
Jason Hirthler
Paris and the Soldiers of the Caliphate: More War, More Blowback
Sam Husseini
The Left and Right Must Stop the Establishment’s Perpetual War Machine
Mike Whitney
Hillary’s War Whoop
Pepe Escobar
In the Fight Against ISIS, Russia Ain’t Taking No Prisoners
Ajamu Baraka
The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement
Andrew Levine
The Clintons are Coming, the Clintons are Coming!
Linda Pentz Gunter
Let’s Call Them What They Are: Climate Liars
Paul Street
Verging on Plutocracy? Getting Real About the Unelected Dictatorship
Nur Arafeh
Strangling the Palestinian Economy
Patrick Howlett-Martin
The Paris Attacks: a Chronicle Foretold
Vijay Prashad
Rebuilding Syria With BRICS and Mortar
Brian Cloughley
Why US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the Biggest Threat to World Peace