To Our Children's Children's Children (A Rock and Roll Epistle)
By Richard Girard
Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.
Reinhold Niebuhr (18921971), U.S. theologian, historian. The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, Foreword (1944).
In April of this year, Riane Eisler wrote an extraordinary article for Tikum that was picked up by AlterNet. It is entitled "Roadmap to a New Economics: Beyond Capitalism and Socialism," and can be read in the April 13, 2010 issue of AlterNet's e-mail newsletter (http://www.alternet.org/story/146173/). This article makes a point that is often lost in the argument between proponents of capitalism, socialism, and all of the other "ism's:" If a solution doesn't improve the world for our children and their children, it is worthless.
It is so easy for us to get lost in the discussion of the minutiae of subtle arguments of philosophy and politics, and to forget what is really important. We must always keep in mind that when we seek a system to provide us with a guide for our future form of government and economy; that if it does not take into account our children and our grandchildren, as well as those who are disabled and disenfranchised--in whole or in part, including women--it does not merit our attention.
One of the reasons that I consider Karl Marx far superior to Ayn Rand, is that Marx mentions children 344 times in volume one of Das Kapital, whereas I do not remember children being mentioned by Ayn Rand once. Marx realized that children are our future, and spoke out in his writings against using children as factory workers. For Karl Marx, a child deserves both our respect and our protection.
I first read Riane Eisler fifteen years ago when I spotted a copy of The Chalice and The Blade in a used bookstore. Her concepts of the partnership versus the dominator social/political system in a society resonated deeply within my own psyche, which was fed up with the waste, corruption, and self-serving excuses that marked American political discourse and policy, which I was experiencing every day working for the State of Colorado.
Top down, hierarchical control of America's political, economic, social, and educational systems, are as antithetical to the visions' of men like Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine and their hopes for this nation as a monarch. This system is directly responsible for the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, where news reports tell us that visiting higher ups from British Petroleum overruled workers on site concerning safety. Eleven dead human beings and eighty-five million plus gallons later (that's 2,000,000+ barrels); they still do not have it stopped.
Because the people at the top--BP (formerly known as British Petroleum), Halliburton, and Transocean--are far more interested in the profits they might lose than the damage they might cause to the Gulf of Mexico's ecosystem and the financial ruin they are bringing to the people who derive their livelihoods from its beautiful waters. And they have put enough money in our politicians' campaign coffers to silence any serious protest from that quarter (Nineteen and one-half million dollars and 49 lobbyists since 2009 according to the watchdog group Public Citizen. See http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2010/06/04-4.)
If I were President of the United States, I would appoint a Special Counsel with all possible speed, to investigate potential charges of murder for on site management, manslaughter for the off site management, plus bribery, and charges for any and every violation of environmental law I could make stick, plus bringing civil suits against all three companies. I would also, as Robert Reich suggested for BP in his Common Dreams article, "Why Obama Should Put BP Under Temporary Receivership," place all assets of BP, Halliburton, and Transocean within the reach of the United States Government into government receivership, until all law suits stemming from this disaster are settled. (See http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/06/01-5.)
The giant multinational corporations have been abusing the American public for far too long: socializing their expenses (especially their losses) while increasingly privatizing their profit by reducing their taxes to one-quarter or less of what they were fifty years ago. It is the small businessperson and the middle-class tax payer who has borne the brunt of the tax burden for the last twenty-five years, in spite of more than forty percent of the population not paying any Federal income tax.
This is because the small businessperson and middle-class tax payer pay fifteen percent (of all wages up to about $110,000.00) in real tax terms to FICA, the Federal payroll tax. These individuals also tend to pay the majority of state and local taxes and fees, and unlike the Paris Hiltons of the world, the small businesspeople are usually paying both an income tax and a capital gains tax if they are having any success at all with their business.
What this has done is rewarded the richest one or two percent of the American population by leaving more than half of their wages and any other income untaxed by FICA's approximately fifteen percent payroll tax. For example, a person making wages of $390,000.00--the annual income required to be in the top one percent of our nation in terms of earning income--only pay 4.3% of their income to FICA.