September 26, 2014

Consummate charlatans

GUEST: Howie Hawkins, UPS worker, member of the Teamsters Local 317, and Green Party candidate for Governor of NY State, talks about changing the system before climate catastrophe and endless war destroy our planet.

We were very pleased to have Howie on Activist Radio. I have been a member of the Green Party from its beginning in the US. Its ten principals are much closer to what the majority of our citizens want for our country. The problem is that our two major parities have long ago sold out to the major corporations and to the Israel Lobby. Both parties are very much like the private corporations that fund them. Once in power, they do what is most profitable for them, and that is always to serve the rich elite. 

Of course, that is not democracy. It is not even close. Millions of Americans now recognize the fraudulent political system they are presented with each election cycle. The revolution in people's minds has already happened, and we just need the spark.

Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor was on NPR yesterday talking about how he will bring an end to "crony capitalism" that robs the middle class. Just like Obama running on the "99 Spring" two years ago, the words are there but have no meaning. Astorino is nothing but a crony capitalist, and so is Obama. What they say is meant to appeal to voters, not to reflect their past practices or future priorities. In short, they are nothing more than frauds, shameless political actors in a simplistic and deceptive electoral performance. Cuomo is similar fraud, sitting on 35 million from his crony capitalist friends and mouthing what he thinks New Yorkers want to hear. 

I was interested to hear what Howie said about how the Green Party fits into this system. He indicated that the campaign was only one step in changing how America is governed. The elites allow third parties to run, so it is a way to encourage citizens to ask questions and work for real reform. Not the reform advocated by the Working Families Party (a paid appendage of the Democratic Party), nor the "hope"spouted by consummate charlatans like Obama. What America has to do is to end the hegemony of the billionaires and their transnational corporations. At stake is far more than the success of our country; it is the continuation of all life on earth.

September 22, 2014

Recognizing and overthrowing privilege

GUEST: Peter Heymann, member of The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB) and the Anti-Racist Alliance, talks about the focus of his organization and their workshop called Undoing Racism Workshops in bringing a clear and deliberate anti-racist structural analysis to social service, education, corporate and community institutions and practice.

Peter, Gary and I were all in agreement about white privilege. We don't have to worry about our kids arrested on the streets and taken to jail. White kids are exempt. We don't have to worry about a cop shooting first and asking questions later. They don't shoot white kids.

Our kids' teachers in school aren't paid less. They don't run out of supplies and books for their classes. The average amount spent on educating our kids is much more than in the city schools. Westchester schools spend about twice per student as the inner city schools in NYC.

So would it help if white people became more aware of their white privilege? Confronted with an economic and criminal justice system that is blatantly unfair to people of color, would whites join the resistance? Would they start insisting that their candidates for public office refrain from using racism in campaigns? Would they begin to hold the criminal justice system accountable for the New Jim Crow? Would they protest the unequal distribution of educational resources in the state? Would they demand that TV programs stop depicting black men as criminals? Would they march with African Americans when another unarmed black kid is shot down?

Like the assault on our climate, racism is built into our economic system. Separating the few haves from the many have-nots has always been good for the people at the top. Recognizing and overthrowing privilege should be the goal of the multiracial 99%.

September 12, 2014

Turn them out to wander and starve

GUEST: Ken Churchill, creator of the American Homeless Land Model campaign to set aside public land for citizens without shelter, will talk about his efforts in small towns across the country.

Ken was a good guest, and politely shared his table with the two college students, who were collecting pledges being called in. Yes, it is pledge week, where we try to keep WVKR a valued part of the Vassar College community. Some colleges have sold their independent stations to the giant media corporations. Giving to WVKR keeps the corporate hounds at bay. 

The pledge drive ends on Monday, September 15th, so there is still time to call and give us any amount you want (845 437-7178).

There was a slight irony in Ken sitting with students in the Vassar College radio studio talking about the homeless, while we shamelessly plugged the station and our program. Then, one of the students taking pledges told us that her father was homeless. It was one of those revealing moments when I realized that my stereotypes about the homeless were all wrong. They are the invisible among us, whose bad odor and dumpster deaths (a Poughkeepsie man was crushed recently while he slept in one) are as damning of the American empire as any peace march. 

Over 100,000 homeless people are veterans, the dirty side of our ever expanding military dominance abroad. But more than that, homelessness reveals the lack of any safety net in a society devoted to killing people in foreign countries and robbing them of their resources. Why should America treat its own people any better? If they can't or won't work to make our nation's billionaires even richer, then turn them out to wander and starve on our streets. 

Megalomaniacal billionaires and their hoards of lifeless accountants

GUEST: Dick Hermans, owner and manager of Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck and Millerton, talks about how and why local bookstores are coming back.

We talked about more than the invasion of digital books. We focused on the corporatization of the publishing industry, and how profits have driven out all other considerations. Values like promoting good literature and nurturing the next generation of gifted writers are just distant memories in the world of modern book selling. Where the bottom line was always about making a profit, now there is simply nothing else.

The resurgence of small bookstores is part of the resistance to neoliberalism. Barnes and Noble has boring books, with an inventory often limited to best sellers and remainders of coffee table tomes printed in China. Browsing a good local bookstore is almost like listening to someone else's ideas. If the bookstore is a good one, the owners invest time in finding and offering intellectually stimulating publications, the reverse of loading up on books that millions of Americans buy. 

Arts have never been about majority tastes. Profit diminishes the scope and intellectual range of a nation's writers. In this time of late empire, take refuge in independent bookstores, where ideas aren't limited by megalomaniacal billionaires and their hoards of lifeless accountants.