February 28, 2014

Public good always front and center

GUEST: Blair Horner, Legislative Director of NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group), talks about his career in this student run organization trying to make government work for the people.

Blair came to our studio, a nice way to do an interview. He has a great voice for radio, and is as articulate on the air as he is in person. 

I was impressed by the operation of NYPIRG. Like all of Nader's organizations, it has a bit of genius in its design. College students fundraise for NYPIRG, form its oversight board, and end up choosing what Blair works on during any given year. He gives them a detailed analysis of many issues and the student board makes the final selection. The process is a two way street, with students learning about the realities of their state government, and in tern democratically choosing what is most important to them.

Of course, this democratic process is how the real state and federal governments are supposed to work. They just don't because corporate money has almost completely corrupted our political process. Blair talked about the "window of opportunity" that some progressive issues must take advantage of. In a real democracy, the corporations would have to search for that window of opportunity, and issues that fostered the public good would always be front and center. 

Blair was dispassionate and highly effective in his presentation, as he always is on NPR. But I noticed him becoming emotionally involved when he talked about the woman who faced a massive healthcare bill for an operation that should have been covered. He was angry about it, and his passion for social justice was right below the surface. What if we had politicians like that, who said the right things and really meant it? 

That fraud, Obama, worked for a Public Interest Research Group after he graduated from college. With him, it must have been all surface. He still says all the right things, but has no passion for social justice. The perfect sellout, talking about peace while he wages war. Talking about inequality while he does Wall Street's work. 

February 20, 2014

We Eat for You, We Shoot You, We Fool You, We Rule You

GUEST: Joseph Sanchez, organizer and delegate for the International Workers of the World, talks about the importance of progressive labor unions like the IWW Starbucks Workers.

Joseph Sanchez gave a good overview of some local labor organizing, including the story of Amy's Bread. Prized by celebrities for its taste and natural baking process, the NYC company actually abuses its employees. The IWW is at the forefront of organizing service workers like these. 

Will radical unions make a comeback? Traditional labor unions have seen their influence gradually shrink to nothing while the workers of American are robbed of their benefits, their retirements, and their standard of living. Having devoted all their efforts to electing Democrats, these unions have been betrayed time and time again by a party that talks social justice but gets its funding from Wall Street. The IWW refuses to support any party, and emphasizes workplace resistance over back room deals with the powerful elite. 

How about the millions of students with huge educational debts and no way to pay them off? Will they be angry enough at being exploited to join a new type of union? Maybe the time is right for labor to wake up and shake the classes above it: "We Eat for You, We Shoot You, We Fool You, We Rule You."

Click on the IWW poster from 1911 above.

For the last chorus of "Hasta Siempre, Comandante" that we played on the program:

We will go forward,
as we used to go with you,
and with Fidel we say to you:
Forever, Comandante!

February 6, 2014

Two kinds of civilization

GUEST: Maria Luisa Rosal, new Field Organizer for the SOA Watch who has recently returned from Close the School of the Americas rally in Fort Benning, Georgia, talks about the dangers of US military training being given to Latin American army personnel.

Maria was an excellent guest and explained the workings of the SOA Watch very well. Why is the school still funded? She thought that people in the US just didn't know the damage to human rights that the School of the Americas perpetuates in Latin America.

But don't our leaders know? Isn't the list of human rights abusers, who have been the SOA's graduates for decades, well known to those in our government who fund the school year after year?

Perhaps the answer is that US military training of foreign troops is about colonialism. Once the US has a Third World's military on its payroll, why worry about a populist coming to power and disrupting the colonial exploitation? The military can do what needs to be done, organizing death squads to keep popular resistance at bay, and then overthrowing democratically elected governments if that is what must be done to protect US business interests. 

Maybe colonialism is an extension of slavery, the robbing of the developing world, first of their labor, and then of their natural resources. All this, of course, can't be discussed in our country since part of our religion is the benevolence of US foreign policy. Against all evidence of history, we cling to our moral righteousness.
Is it perhaps, possible that there are two kinds of Civilization-one for home consumption and one for the heathen market? -Mark Twain