commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

Archive for the ‘activism’ Category

Open letter to my congressman about the phlegm flute

After viewing the video about the Phlegm Flute, and seeing on the manufacturer’s site that the FDA currently bars its sale in the land of the free and the home of widespread, money-making drugs for COPD, pneumonia, and other things that must be protected so healthcare costs can be uncontained, I wrote the following to my Congressman, Rep. Chris Smith (R-4-NJ). (The first paragraph refers to the efforts he put in to restore Sean Goldman to his father, David Goldman.) Aside from the first paragraph, others may wish to write to their congressmen via http://www.house.gov .

First, I’d like to congratulate you on your handling of the Goldman case and getting that child back in the US. Great job.

As you know, there are several influenza virii circulating, as well as the usual colds, etc. There is a device – non electrical, not a drug, just a tube that helps vibrate the chest – called the lung flute. You can see a video of it at http://bit.ly/1ThBbf . However, the company that makes the device says on their site at http://bit.ly/4yaHGI that although non-Americans can obtain it, the FDA is blocking it and will make it available only by prescription. I see no reason why a non-intrusive (except for blowing into a tube) device, which has had excellent results in other countries, should be withheld from Americans by a hyperactive bureaucrat at the FDA. I generally lose 5-10 days work time per year to upper respiratory infections – luckily I get sick time at my job – and my mother has COPD. Two close friends have severe pneumonia, and have to take steroids which are themselves proven dangerous with side effects – but are the only things stronger than Robitussin/Mucinex available.

Please consult with your colleagues and with the FDA to make this device available to Americans immediately. Considering the amount of money spent on antibiotics, steroids, and guafenesin – not to mention lost productivity – this is a simple health plan that doesn’t need thousands of pages in the Congress, but simply reining in the FDA. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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The Individual Freedom Reclamation Amendment

Thinking about how religious people in the US, from diverse traditions, can reclaim our Nation from corporate control, led to a search of Catholic encyclicals.  One thing that keeps popping up in Catholic social justice – identical to things I have heard from many fellow Witches – is the dignity of the human person.  Although not widely known,  several encyclicals starting with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum make it clear that the Roman Catholic Church opposes US-style capitalism just as much as it opposes socialism. In fact, it opposes any economic or political system which violates the dignity of the human person.  Given that many Baptist and Evangelical churches were deeply involved in the civil rights movement, I would think that many Protestants share this belief as well.

As the current pope has put it:

“the market has prompted new forms of competition between States as they seek to attract foreign businesses to set up production centres, by means of a variety of instruments, including favourable fiscal regimes and deregulation of the labour market. These processes have led to a downsizing of social security systems as the price to be paid for seeking greater competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for the solidarity associated with the traditional forms of the social State.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate

One problem in the Western world is that corporations – in legalese, “non-natural persons” – are recognized as persons by the legal system. This enables large amounts of capital to be used in ways no human person could muster: to control media, depress wages, and eliminate the “social security” net (not speaking solely of the US agency called “Social Security”.)

To restore the dignity of the human person as superior to capital – as is the belief of many Pagans, as well as many Christians – I think the following Amendment to the US Constitution might be appropriate:

ARTICLE (?).
1. No Right, stated in this Constitution, shall apply to persons other than Natural Persons, unless specifically granted to persons other than Natural Persons.

2. Section 1 of this Amendment shall not apply to the Powers of Congress as enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of this Constitution.

3. For the purposes of this Constitution, and all laws and regulations made subject to it, the phrase “limited Times” or other like phrases shall be construed as one-third of the average lifespan of a Natural Person citizen of the United States. Said lifespan shall be calculated on a decennial basis by the Social Security Administration or successor agencies; if said agencies cease to exist the national Census shall be modified to determine said lifespan.

4. Sections 1- 3 of this Amendment are curative and shall apply immediately to all treaties, laws, and court decisions now standing.

“Corporate Greed”: a useless simplification

I see a lot of people complaining about corporate greed, as if a legal charter given to a group of people somehow acquires the very human attribute of greed. Corporations don’t have greed. They can’t. As Sir Edward Coke, sitting as the King’s Bench, put it in the Sutton Hospital Case of 1612:

“They may not commit treason, nor be outlawed, nor excommunicate, for they have no souls, neither can they appear in person, but by Attorney.”

Corporations do not have greed. People have greed, which is often more successful when hidden behind a for-profit corporation. Using the phrase “corporate greed” buys into the very denial of the I-thou relationship that the greedy people have. Calling it “corporate greed” aids and abets the glamorie that the owners of the corporation use the corporation for: there’s no people here, it’s just a corporation, it’s freedom, what’s your problem anyway? With a corporation, an individual human can only have an I-it relationship, eliminating any chance of dialogue and real change.

In order to break down the walls in society against I-thou relationships, people opposed to massive accumulation of wealth by individual persons need to initiate such connections, instead of attacking the phantom of “corporate greed”. One philosophical song that I see as addressing the desire to attack the greedy as opposed to the need to first make an I-thou connection with a particular person in hopes of establishing a resonance is T. Thorn Coyle’s “Hey Mister” (from her Give Us a Kiss! CD):

“Hey mister,it’s really not my place to put you down
Hey mister, it’s not in my theology.
Hey mister, I shouldn’t run your name into the ground
But I seem to do it anyway!

Hey mister, I know that I should see the God within
Hey mister, but in your eyes she doesn’t seem to play;
Hey mister, I suppose I ought to listen not defend
Hey mister, but I just don’t see the world your way.

All I see are your big cars,
And the way my neighborhood has changed;
It makes me want to shout you out:
And pull my hair like I’m deranged!
I want to bring salvation back;
I really want us to evolve –
But I don’t know how to see a thing
The money, opposition and false power.”

“Hey mister”: it’s a phrase one-to-one. It derecognizes the phony personhood of the corporation and tries to initiate a conversation with an individual, human, person who wields money and power behind the corporate glamorie.

Attacking “corporate greed” has gotten practically nowhere. Perhaps it’s time to look at another strategy; a humanistic strategy; a strategy of finding connections to those hiding behind “corporations”. Perhaps it’s time to try to see the world the way corporate owners (not managers unless they are also major stockholders) see it; it’s the only way to establish a slow resonance in dialogue to ultimately change the frequency.

Corporations have no souls, no greed, no lust, no passion. Attacking corporate greed is a symbolic action so divorced from the actual people who wield power and money, and an action so divorced from humanistic and social justice I-thou traditions, that it wastes energy that could be better used in addressing the actual people of power and money.

Another reason why marijuana should be legalized

“‘We’re not winning the battle,’ Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard told lawmakers.  ‘The violence that we see in Mexico is fueled 65 to 70 percent by the trade in one drug: marijuana.'” (CNN)

The Arizona Attorney General has made it clear: marijuana legalization would cut violence in Mexico by 65 to 70 percent – violence that is creeping north into the US.  At what point will our elected officials see that the biggest threat marijuana poses is the violence that accompanies prohibition?

Retailers want a bailout too

In an interview on CNN, Marshall Cohen, chief industry analyst for the NPD group, said that when retailers give discounts of 50-60% they’re about breaking even.

50-60%???

And now they want a bailout because they’ve been making 50% profit on what they sell??

Maybe in this economic climate the government should give them the tax subsidy they’re looking for; but in return the retail czar (like the “car czar”) should make sure they make no more than 20% profit.  This will help consumers and the economy a whole lot more than guaranteeing their fat profit margins by spending Federal tax dollars.

Quote updates 12/9

Bill Schneider:
“An Obama job approval rating of 79 percent — that’s the sort of rating you see when the public rallies around a leader after a national disaster. To many Americans, the Bush administration was a national disaster.”
http://http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/09/Obama.poll/index.html

Honorable William O. Douglas, U.S.S.C. (1898-1980):
“We must realize that today’s Establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution.”
http://www.oyez.org/justices/william_o_douglas/

Sandra Lee Dennis:
“We begin to resacralize sexuality by acknowledging its shadow side of destruction and death, the dark Eros whose importance we may yet grasp.”
http://www.infibeam.com/Books/info/Sandra-Lee-Dennis/Embrace-of-the-Daimon-The-Ecstatic-Promise/0892540567.html

Senator John McCain (R-AZ):
“Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt, many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight that I will do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me to join not only in congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and honest effort to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences.”
http://mccain.senate.gov/public/

William Jefferson Clinton:
“We just had the biggest redistribution of income upwards in the last eight years since the 1920s, and we know how the 1920s ended.”
http://www.clintonlibrary.gov/

What if food prices spiked like gas did a few months ago?

Monsanto’s trying to make it happen: advertise aggressively, collect the money and to hell with the people.