February 21, 2013

Food and a permanent underclass

GUEST: Katia Chapman, recent Vassar graduate (Latin American/ Latino Studies) and Youth Empowerment Associate Coordinator for the Rural & Migrant Ministry, talks about community activism and the pursuit of social and economic justice for all.

The invisibility of farm workers protects us all. We can be enthusiastic about local produce and sustainable agriculture. We can use local farmers' markets that have opened in almost every community. But workers' rights never seem to enter into the discussion. We even pay a little more for organic produce to keep our family healthy. Would we ever pay a little more so that farm workers could live normal lives?

Without labor rights, farm workers are often much worse off then any other employees in America. Why aren't farm workers included in our labor legislation? Must there be a permanent underclass that plants and harvests the food you serve at your table? 

February 15, 2013

We rant a little

GUEST: Katia Chapman from Rural and Migrant Ministry was unable to call in as our guest (we are rescheduling). Listeners get a whole hour of just Fred and Gary railing against the war mongers and corporate elites.
From Bill Clinton to Barack Obama and from Madeleine Albright to Hillary Clinton, these Democratic sellouts have been pursuing American Empire at the cost of trillions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of lives lost. They do it for money, and for their place among the corporate elite. They internalize the logic of neoliberalism since it fits with their all consuming ambition to be rich and powerful. None of them come from the elite class, but have been willing to sell their intellect and persuasive skills to the highest bidder, which in the Twenty First Century has always been the captains of multinational corporations.

Hope has been an integral part of their message. The hope of the middle class to do better, to own more, and to become a member the ruling class. Their actions in office, however, betray the hope of the middle class by making it impossible for most other people to improve their lives or the lives of their children. By serving the elite so faithfully, they increase the already gross disparity of income in America, and restrict the social mobility for everyone else.

War is the most efficient way to increase the power and wealth of the nation's elite, and so these Democrats have become masters of creating deadly conflicts abroad. They use all their persuasive powers to demonize selected countries, creating "enemy lists" that can be used from administration to administration. The US media plays along and never raises questions. Welcome to the American Empire, hated and feared by most of the developing world.

Rant a little; it clears the head after all the imperial garbage we are fed daily.

February 7, 2013

With the right alliances and tactics

GUEST: Chino Hardin, lead know-your-rights trainer for the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, will talk about NYPD's stop and frisk policy and the hope for reform.

Chino took us through a training that she does for at risk teenagers. At risk for arrest because they are black. How could our system have strayed so far and allowed so many people of color to fill our jails? 

Perhaps it is our racist perceptions about black youth committing more crimes. Perhaps it is our comfort with the police, who would never treat us with less than respect. We make easy assumptions about our criminal justice system, preferring not to understand its racist nature and its neoliberal profit motives. 

Chino, of course, is a pro. Rather than talk about black people and white people, she preferred to discuss human rights for everyone. It made me think about the concept of universal human rights and why they are so often taken from the less powerful. Palestinians are simply asking for the same rights as Israelis enjoy. African Americans are simply asking for equality from the police and from the courts. Perhaps that is a definition of racism, the denial of rights based on an imbalance of power between two identifiable ethnic, racial, or religious groups.

Racism can be overcome with the right alliances and tactics. We saw that in the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps we will see it today in the End the New Jim Crow movements to reform our criminal justice system. 

February 1, 2013

What the Palestinians want

GUEST: Dalit Baum, co-founder of Who Profits from the Occupation, a research initiative of the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel, speaks to us about boycotting specific settlement products like SodaStream.

Our conversation with Dalit was full of information that I hadn't known. The law passed restricting Israeli citizens from advocating a boycott had other aspects to it. The law also threatened any Israeli company that purposely restricts commerce with the settlements in the West Bank. Could SodaStream have their corporate charter revoked by pulling their manufacturing out of the occupied settlements? Maybe boycotts should be geared towards all of Israel, rather than just the companies located in the illegally occupied areas. Israeli policy is the problem. The state supports and encourages the apartheid treatment of Palestinians. 

I asked Dalit, an Israeli citizen, what her goals were for the boycott of SodaStream. Would it be enough for the company to close their factory in the West Bank? She said that boycott decisions were made by Palestinians, not by Israelis. It's a point that we must remind ourselves of again and again. The boycott follows what the Palestinians want, the same as the boycott against South African apartheid in the 1980's.