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The Hard-won Vote & Today

Social media feeds you with flattery, it feeds you what it sees you want: clothes and conspiracies, flashier games and violence, fear, and better iPhones. It exhausts you. Timothy Snyder said, “You’re already enough you! Expand your imagination.”

Social media gives wonderful opportunity for sharing and problem solving, but the corporations running this media want our money and take advantage of us with lies and advertising. They should be censored, then put out of business. We citizens own the airwaves. We are responsible to make the proper regulations and laws. We have to inform ourselves. Know our values. Vote. These couple of pages are about the vote and the spirit behind the vote. We dearly need our democracy and freedom.

Born free. No we are not. We are dependent for many years. Little by little, we see that everybody else wants to be free too. That comes with sharing and compromise – rules at home; with laws in the streets and states; and with our culture that provides space and spirit – politeness in conversation and tolerance of differences. The values and democracy we’ve tried to create have inched forward. We are more equal at home and more equal before the law than earlier in our history. Treating each other as equals is a core commitment and telling the truth about the past and intentions for the future. Values and science change with deeper insight, but they remain unchanged in careful observation of factual events and commitment to understanding. Lies are easy. Telling the truth takes practice.

There is as much prejudice and poverty in the North as in the South. The North made as much money on slavery as the South. The problem has been the same throughout US history.  Money is power.

Vote out big money in politics (out with “Citizens United,” the 2010 Supreme Court decision)! Vote in term limits so a legislator’s term is not for collecting money to run again! Tax the Rich! Many rich people are fine with that. Peter Yarrow (who co-wrote Puff, the Magic Dragon) didn’t mind in the 1960’s being taxed about 90% of his income. He remained wealthy and his taxes made a social contribution. Warren Buffet wonders why he’s still paying a lower rate relative to his income than his secretary. Many huge corporations pay their owners a dollar a year which is one way to avoid taxes. US tax is on income from work, not wealth. Vote for a wealth tax! Wealthy people can borrow money to pay for their lifestyles. Borrowed money does not count as income. And the wealthy have lobbyists and lawyers, the loophole specialists, to keep taxation unfair. If the wealthy paid their share our government would have billions of dollars a year to help with our citizens’ desperate needs – healthcare most of all. 

Vote for appropriate, higher corporate taxation! The 2017 legislation cut the corporate rate from 35% to 21% of profit. This is a low tax, if it is paid at all. Many corporations have left the country to avoid taxes, and they have gone to countries where laborers get only a few dollars a day. The tax gap, the difference between what is owed and what is paid (for individuals, corporations and employment tax), is many hundreds of billions per year. Laws without adherence or enforcement are worse than none, they make a mockery of the laws. In the case of taxes our present Congress will not fund the IRS investigators needed, so the tax gap remains. Estimates are that there are five lobbyists for every state legislator, greasing palms. When there are economic crunches, and even when there are not, corporations get the handouts. Agribusiness, which is the agriculture of today, receives $16 billion per year and has for a decade. Agribusiness has dire environment impact. Loss of insects with agricultural poisons is a disaster.     

Other subsidies or give-aways of public lands have similar results, like leases to oil and gas companies. We don’t need more oil and gas. We do need to retrain and support oil workers and their families. Leases are collected by oil and gas companies to increase their assets on paper. They take the estimates (made-up) of future revenue to the banks to get loans. It’s the old bubble game of false assets with banks playing along. Our government knows about, and is complicit with, this and with corporate billing fraud (billions in health care billing), false news, planned obsolescence, externalities, i.e. polluting water, land and air with no cleanup, commercializing children…Vote out big money in politics!

There are lots of good corporations. There are lots of good, small companies. These are the foundation of the US economy, not those who are gaming our democracy.

We should feel strong as citizens in our ability to get done what we want done for ourselves and for nature. We own the public land and off-shore waters. We own our airwaves. Our taxes have launched most of the great science and technology innovations of recent history. We can choose the purposes our taxes are put to. This is because of the right to vote. But our representatives must represent us, they cannot merge with the moneymen. First and foremost, we can not lose our hard-won vote.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act 
Restores and strengthens the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that outlawed discrimination in voting.

The Freedom to Vote Act
Expands voter registration and access, limits voter removal. Election day is a Federal holiday. Reinstates past criminal offenders. Prohibits hindering a person from registering to vote or helping another do so. Election security with post-election audits. Rules for congressional redistricting. No campaign financing by foreign nationals. More disclosure on funding and spending. Disclaimers on certain advertising. Alternative campaign funding system for federal office.

After those two all-important Acts are law, Congress must pass legislation for: Universal Health Care, Climate Crisis Action, Immigration Reform, Women’s Right to Choose, Free Education, Living Wages, Prison Reform, Police Reform, Gun Control, No Nukes, Huge Military Reduction.  At least half of these issues have enormous citizen endorsement. Vote those representatives, who have not understood this, out!

For our future: Youth – get out of town. You’ll make friends with all kinds of people different from yourself. Go travel. It’s ancient medicine. Even learn another language
(a glimpse into another soul – Charlemagne). Best, take a walk in nature and watch the creatures. There’s no lying or cheating. Look at the sky, the night sky especially. Go on a Walkabout, an Indian Ramble.

When you come back (if), vote.

 Historian Timothy Snyder reminds us that from 1870 on the Democrats were the voter suppression party, the last fifty years the Republicans have been the voter suppression party. We need very different parties. He is not optimistic about our democracy. His perspective on the Big Lie, that Trump won the presidential election, is striking, and he is passionate in insisting that it be utterly debunked. The failed coup on January 6 in his opinion is practice for another coup attempt. And most horrid for him, and probably most of us, was watching the Republicans, representatives from all over our country, fearing for their careers, vote on that very night, against democracy. We must understand this event and we must have accountability.

Beyond accountability, in the bright future we hope to have together, our call, the same here and worldwide, is for reconciliation.