4 July 2010
July 3: Fireworks explode over Butte, Mont., as part of the city's Fourth of July celebration.
Before “Old Glory” gets raised, the burgers and dogs go on the grill; before the potato salad and coleslaw and other goodies get heaped on your plate, let me lay this pickle next to them . . .
First, do you feel independent if you’re one of the 10 to 20 percent of America’s unemployed facing your benefits being cut?
Do you feel independent if your voices expressed in the US government, the Congress and President, seem to be in the pockets of all those multi-large corporations they should be monitoring?
Do you feel independent if you have a financial bill that doesn’t renew the Glass-Steagall Act, which would separate big banks, including “too big to fail banks” into either commercial banks or investment banks? This would help make investment banks small enough to fail and not blow their depositor’s money plus investors’ cash.
Do you feel financially independent since the loopholes in derivatives have not been properly addressed in the financial bill? Finance guru Martin Weiss gives you a list of derivatives he calls the Derivative Monster: Alive and Kicking Despite Reforms.
Revered memory: a modern Tea Party tax protest.
Do you feel independent if you’re always worried that your bank or brokerage is going under? Or that your pension will be cut? Or that Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare will be cut, as they have been since the trio’s inceptions?
Do you feel independent if you think the stock market, our economy or the world’s economies are going to fail due to the excessive debt incurred by the financial and government sectors?
Do you feel independent with the Fed printing your country’s money pell mell and the Treasury spending it on bailouts?
Do you feel independent if you’re facing or have gone through foreclosure as millions of Americans have, victimized by mortgage companies who gave you a loan that you couldn’t pay for, or time-bombed it with exploding charges, or both?
Do you feel independent if the recent Health Reform Bill will give away upwards of $400 million dollars to insurance companies to supposedly cover the uninsured; that is, those who can’t pay for insurance when Medicare could have been expanded into a single-payer plan to cover those Americans at a much lower cost?
Do you feel independent if you can’t pay for coverage and you get fined, but need the money for other priorities like food and shelter?
Do you feel independent if a bridge has fallen in your area, your infrastructure is crumbling, your municipal bond issues failing, signifying bankrupt state and city governments?
Do you feel independent when you’re government will be spending $3 trillion dollars next year, with 53 cents of every dollar for defense, leaving 47 cents per dollar for everything else?
Do you feel independent when the national debt is $12.5 trillion? Or do you feel owned by China and other creditors?
Do you feel independent when the majority of Americans voted for Obama “to stop the dumb wars” while he’s escalated the Afghanistan war that spilled into Pakistan?
Do you feel independent about the Senate debating giving him $33 billion more for war, that is, on top of the $30 billion he got a short while back?
Do you feel independent when no one in government seems to be listening as you say “not,” as if they’re deaf, dumb and blind?
Do you feel independent when Internet Czar Cass Sunstein wants to fine you if you write something that’s not the government party line, or wants a pop-up leading you back to the US point of view like a Viagra ad when you’re looking for the truth?
Do you feel independent when you know the NSA has the right to monitor all foreign and domestic calls you make or emails that you write? Do you feel independent knowing Big Brother is looking over your shoulder 24/7?
Do you feel independent when you hear about internment camps for protestors being built around the USA?
Do you feel independent when Arizona police can stop you if you’re Latino just for the hell of it?
Do you feel independent when a major oil company, BP, can’t stop a major oil disaster in the Gulf in more than two months, and doesn’t seem to have a clue, no matter what the government says to them?
And do you feel independent when the Minerals Management Service, established to prevent disasters like this was in bed (literally) with BP, reducing standards, failing to have plans let alone back-up plans for dealing with the noxious results?
And do you feel independent when Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) for natural gas can poison your drinking water with some 596 toxic chemicals, with the possibility of some 40 trillion gallons of chemically infused water created by the drilling so far.
Do you feel independent when you turn on your faucet and the gas-infused water that pours out can be set on fire with your cigarette lighter?
Do you feel independent when your major city is next on the list to have fracking and poisoned water flow from reservoirs to the populace?
Do you feel independent to know that in 2005 Vice President Dick Cheney exempted fracking from many long-standing environmental regulations, most notably the Safe Drinking Water Act?
Does the sum total of this short list of questions and another a hundred times longer that you or I could compile make you feel independent?
Or does it make you feel as if you’re living in a country whose government is occupied by an army of corporate lobbyists representing private interests far beyond your power -- and you must remain silent and cross-eyed?
Does it make you feel independent that all the massive tax cuts have benefited just the wealthiest people in our country? And that many of these people want to cut your Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, corporate pension or health plans, for more personal enrichment?
Does it make you feel independent to know the middle class is being wiped out to enrich the wealthy?
Do you feel independent knowing that the working class is struggling to keep its head above water?
Do you feel independent knowing that all this was a plan inaugurated by right-winger Ronald Reagan in 1980, the president who quadrupled the deficit with bigger military spending and tax cuts? What’s wrong with that picture?
Do you feel independent knowing Democrats (the working man’s party) all along the way have joined in to bloat the military and cut social programs, including public school education at every level?
Do you feel independent when the Tea-Baggers ask the government “to get off their backs” instead of asking government “to get on the case” and make laws and regulations to control free-trade, which is definitely not free of corruption, and outright “Wall Street-style stealing” in countless ways from the US taxpayer.
Do you feel independent knowing that depleted uranium (DU) used in US Weaponry to increase its “bang” or “protective” ability is poisoning the US military, as well as the people of Central Asia and the Mideast; and that writers like myself will be maligned by Department of Defense assets for writing this?
Do you feel independent not being told DU is made with Uranium 238 that aerosolizes when it explodes on impact into the atmosphere, poisoning earth, air and water as well as the human and animal immune systems?
Do you feel independent knowing that your mainstream media won’t report on most of these issues because they are controlled by the dollars of multi-national corporations who don’t want to rock the entertainment rowboat with reality?
Do you feel independent knowing that the 9/11 Commission was not independent and that each member was tied to the Bush administration, and that its report should properly be called the 9/11 Commission of Omissions’ Report?
Do you feel independent knowing that 9/11, compromised as it was, was the inciting incident for the “War on Terror,” which movie is still running in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and so on, having swallowed $3 trillion so far and 3 million lives?
These are only a few of my favorite questions concerning your independence and mine on July 4, 2010, Independence Day, as it was named by our forefathers, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the framers of our Constitution.
Oh, and by the way, do you feel independent knowing that the USA PATRIOT ACT was and is unconstitutional and that torture and rendition are still sanctioned, and that the president now has the power to send assassination teams to anywhere in the world to kill whomever he deems involved with terrorism. Is that not a form of terror itself?
But by now, I’ve probably given you agita. I apologize, but the truth shall set you free as long as you keep asking questions and feeling independent enough to do so. Silence is the handmaiden of tyranny. Remember that today, everyday.
And have a good weekend. Maybe take a minute to make your own list of people, places, or events that don’t make you feel free. After all, the Declaration says our government derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government . . .”
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book, “State Of Shock: Poems from 9/11 on” is available at www.jerrymazza.com, Amazon or Barnesandnoble.com.
Sunday, July 4, 2010