Non-Violent Political Communication Needed

Margot Ford McMillen’s “We Can’t Eat Business Models,” [10/15/11 TPP], brought to mind previous submissions advocating what I call “life by a different measure,” i.e., living by a standard that measures our actions by the life that is created or protected, rather by than those which make the most profit.

Clearly, as McMillen and others have pointed out, the needs of industry (which, despite Citizens United, are not human) are antithetical to the needs of living beings, since, arguably, industry’s only life force is money. This need to make money has subverted life for centuries, and will continue to as long as we perceive international industry as the master of our universe.

Acquiescing to this making of money as our life’s work makes us party to our own destruction. The answer to this dichotomy could be as simple as learning to reframe how we express ourselves and hear others. That is the foundation of the principles taught in Nonviolent Communication, A Language of Life, by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. NVC, as it is known, teaches “language and communication skills that strengthen our ability to remain human, even under trying conditions.”

It “replaces our old patterns of defending, withdrawing, or attacking in the face of judgment and criticism” and teaches us to “come to perceive ourselves and others, as well as our intentions and relationships, in a new light.”

More than a process or language, NVC is an “ongoing reminder to keep our attention focused on a place where we are more likely to get what we are seeking.” Rosenberg has used it successfully in communities facing violent conflicts and severe ethnic, religious or political tensions, such as Israel, Palestine, Nigeria, Rwanda, Bosnia and Croatia. He teaches by example that even enemies can connect to each other by learning to articulate, as well as to listen to, each other’s pain.

International industries, whose only life force is money, cannot feel pain, but they do have an inexhaustible need for more profit.

As we see in McMillen’s argument, meeting this insatiable need causes humans, and other living beings, great pain and even death. NVC teaches that “the more people are trained to think in terms of moralistic judgments that imply wrongness and badness, the more they are being trained to look outside themselves — to outside authorities — for the definition of what constitutes right, wrong, good, and bad. When we are in contact with our feelings and needs, we humans no longer make good slaves and underlings.”

We humans need a new social contract that values whatever sustains life most. Whatever is best for all is best, period: companies owned by their employees; governments creating banks, making loans to employee-owned businesses which generate sustainable-living jobs and products. People rewarded for their labor with currency that supports better, healthier lifestyles.

Profit that becomes the prerogative of the community, not that of one individual or private entity; corporations that are no longer persons, nor equal to persons, much less superior to them.

We can have the life we need on this planet by creating a new, nonviolent dialogue with those who would oppress and exploit us for their own profit.

Nancy Churchill
Oregon, Ill.

Republicans Oppose ‘General Welfare’

The “House GOP Advances Postal Slashing Bill” (Dispatches, 10/15/11 TPP) is accurate, but omits the fact that it is just the first step of the a primary goal of the Republican Party, privatizing the United States Postal Service. Privatization would be an American tragedy that would eventually eliminate well over a million jobs and thereby eliminate rural small businesses that rely on the postal service for their existence.

Apparently the Republican members of Congress have misinterpreted one of the purposes of our nation set forth in the Preamble of the Constitution — to “promote the general Welfare,” an interpretation they apparently believe is applicable only to the richest 1%.

It is difficult to understand how privatizing the Postal Service and privatizing or eliminating Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education and environmental regulations will promote “the general welfare.” Our enemies do not need to waste time or resources to destroy the United States. The Republican members of Congress and their well-financed lobbyist cohorts are doing a superb job for them.

The dismantling of our health, education, and communication safeguards appear to be closer to “treason” than to promoting the “general Welfare.”

Edward L. Koven
Highland Park, Ill.

Get the Money Out of Politics

Dylan Ratigan’s constitutional amendment idea [to get the money out of politics] is great — and I fully support it. However, I would like to add two possibilities of improving the situation.

1. Add to the amendment fines and prison terms for those caught not obeying it. For instance, low level infractions like a free luncheon or a golf outing at a prestigious country club - fines of 100 times value for the elected official and 500 times value for the person offering the gift. For high level infractions (say, $5,000 or more), loss of office, loss of accrued pension, and five years in federal prison for the elected official.

For person or persons offering the bribe, ten years in federal prison. If a corporation is involved, the CEO and board members must be held accountable with fines and prison terms.

Plus “whistle-blower” rebates -totaling one-third of all fines received to the person or persons informing law officials of the situation. In other words the amendment needs Big Teeth.

2. Borrow a tactic from Grover Norquist. Have local people, all over the country, who are associated with the amendment process, present a statement to each candidate who files for office in the following categories; US Senate, US House, State Senate and State House.

The statement will swear before God that the candidate, if elected, will attempt to place said amendment on the agenda, work to bring the amendment before the full body (i.e. through all necessary committees). Vote “yes” for the amendment in all cases.

This would include voting “no” in all efforts to table or delay passage.

This statement is to be signed and notarized in the presence of twenty or more people with full media coverage. Refusal of the candidate to sign will be made public and efforts will be made to attract other candidates.

If two or more candidates in the primary do sign, or if both in the final election, the public will have to use their judgment as to which individual is more reliable. Finally, it should be noted that the process will take 5 to 6 years.

Four more after the next election to cycle through the US Senate, plus a year or so for state ratification.

J.A. Gowman
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Texas ‘Justice’

As I read “Texas ‘Justice’” on capital punishment and Rick Perry [Editorial, 10/15/11 TPP], I was reminded of Leo Tolstoy’s powerful 1908 essay, “I Cannot Be Silent”.

Tolstoy wrote:

“Continually seeing the most shocking acts of brutality committed by the AUTHORITIES (that is, by persons we have been told to regard as the best of our men) rather than causing our children to see that these men are not worthy of our respect after all, usually causes them to believe that if men so generally esteemed sometimes, calmly, and with little hesitation, kill a caged human, the process must somehow be reasonable.”

Doubtless the authority figures Tolstoy had in mind were very much like George W. Bush and Rick Perry; killer beasts right out of the caves, very little evolved from the days of human sacrifice, but with fine suits and elaborate coiffures.

Larry Surber
Stoneville, N.C.

Executive Execution

I didn’t think that I would ever live to see the day that an American President, especially one considered an expert on constitutional law, that would issue a presidential order to summarily execute a US citizen. Of course, Congress is complicit as they passed the authorization to kill anyone deemed a security threat to the US and so classified by the CIA and the President as a terrorist.

Unfortunately, that day did arrive on Sept. 30 when news of Anwar-el-Awlacki assassination flashed across the screen of my TV carried out by the US government. I agree with our President and the CIA that Mr. Awlacki was a threat to the American people and needed to be arrested and tired in before a jury of his peers a right guaranteed to all American citizens. No law passed by Congress or edict, order, manifesto, or decree by the President can overrule this constitutional right. This executive precedent should be immediately challenged by every American civil libertarian by summoning the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of giving the President the power to carry out summary executions.

After torture and executions what is next? State sponsored suicidal attacks?

This is sounding too much like the end justifies the means. Something our enemies have always practiced.

Jack Arnold
Carmel Valley, Calif.

Huffington Doesn’t Pay Her Share

In the early 2000s, I read an article in [the Aug. 18, 2003, Time magazine about how Arrianna Huffington only paid $771 in federal tax in the previous two years]. Until I retired in 2006, I had this pinned on my waiting room bulletin board for all my patients to read.

In her article [“Obama needs to make change in himself,” 10/15/11 TPP], she has the gall to say “Obama’s method as president has failed.” It’s people like A. Huffington that’s made this country fail. She’s managed to “scheme” her way out of paying “her fair share.” (Like most of the other “fat cats.”)

If you don’t inform the public about her, maybe Hightower will “have the balls” to. She’s pathetic.

R.B. Fink (retired dentist)

Keytesville, Mo.

Editor Replies: Huffington released her tax return when she ran for governor of California in 2003. In 2002, she reported corporate income of $183,000 but expenses of $410,000.

Today, as president and editor in chief of AOL’s Huffington Post Media Group, she is much wealthier and there is no telling how much tax she pays. But the fact that she takes advantage of tax breaks while she criticizes corporate greed, tax loopholes and political corruption doesn’t strike us as hypocritical; if anything, she is advocating against her own self-interest.

Choose Your Illusion

Tina Dupuy’s 10/15/11 TPP contribution, “Why the Middle Class Fears a Tax Increase,” which attempts to analyze the psychosis of a middle class opposed to taxing the wealthy, helps to describe a vexing political problem. However, the “soon to be rich” fantasy should not be discarded as it becomes quite real if properly modified to “soon to be taxed.”

Wealth is a relative condition. Not only is there no defining line which clearly indicates when a person is “rich,” any attempt to establish when a person can be considered so is further confounded by the ancient proverb — “Wealthiest is he who needs the least.”

However, in the realm of the IRS there are clearly defined thresholds known to all of us as “tax brackets” which, at the very least, suggest tiers of wealth.

Therefore, in order to suffer from “soon to be rich” syndrome, one need not be severely delusional to the point of seeing Bill Gates in the mirror, but only mildly so with the belief that increased wealth and taxes are coming soon.

As a manufacturer of hot air balloons (a get rich quick machine) I know this dreamer well. 

With his half-full glass and high hopes, this proverbial optimist is much too driven to the next level to worry about some little guy’s free ride on the dole.

If you ask him if Bill Gates is paying much too little, he will honestly and loudly say, YES.

But if you ask him if the folks in the tax bracket just above him should be paying more, the answer will always be NO, ’cause that’s where he’s headed.

No doubt, Tina Dupuy’s “last place aversion” neurotic is also very real. With his half-empty glass and lack of ambition, this pessimist keeps faith in the idea that grumbling loudly about taxes and government largesse is a required part of holding firm to his rung.

Together, the optimist and the pessimist both serve the wealthy, simply by refusing to recognize that there is a 90% chance that neither one will move up or down significantly in his lifetime.

Ron DiGiovanni
Easton Pa.

Thanks for Exposing Lies

Re: “Rupert Murdoch Casts a Tabloid Shadow Over Media” [10/15/11 TPP]: In his book, On Bended Knee, Mark Hertsgaard described the mainstream media as Ronald Reagan’s faithful bootlicker.

Then he went on to say that any aspiring journalist who dared to dissent from official orthodoxy, would never see his byline in any of the major magazines or newspapers.

Mr. Hertsgaard wrote those words more than 20 years ago — and they are still true today.

All the more reason, then, to express our gratitude to Hal Crowther and all the talented writers featured in your publication, who have refused to make a Faustian pact with the likes of Murdoch and his corporate press.

Thank you, Mr. Crowther — and all of your fellow journalists who contribute to The Progressive Populist — for exposing the lies that appear with unending regularity in today’s mainstream media.

Each of you has placed your integrity above the trappings of wealth and fame, and for that you deserve your readers’ enduring gratitude.

David Quintero
Monrovia, Calif.

From The Progressive Populist, November 15, 2011


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