Boycott All but Sustainable Farms

Here I am writing by hand even though there is a computer in the other room. I'm dragging my feet on learning to use it. And maybe there is actually some justification for not being thrilled by computers. Maybe I should be boycotting them and their uses as I do Shell, Total, Standard Oil stations and Disney.

Why? I just finished reading Sacred Waters: Life Blood of Mother Earth by Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice and Campaign for Responsible Technology. The book is four case studies of high-tech water resource exploitation and corporate welfare in the Southwest. It simply delineates how computer giants Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, Fairchild Semiconductor, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, National Semiconductor, Raytheon, Siemens, Teledyne, Phillips, Synertek, TRW and CTS Printex are responsible for pollution in Santa Clara County, California, and for Superfund taxpayer-funded cleanup of the contaminated land and water.

In Arizona there is not only contamination of irreplaceable water but also drawdown of groundwater that puts in jeopardy the underlying aquifers and this in turn puts agricultural land and the lifestyle of small subsistence farming in competition with non-sustainable technology.

The question is how much is an external supply of water for 5,000 people worth? What with tax subsidies, abatements and gifts to huge corporations the actual taxpayers are in the process of being dehydrated, sickened and driven off their ancestral lands. Their own sustainable agriculture lands will be useless without the ancient water systems now being mined by corporations.

The book contains lists of Bills of Rights for Economic Justice and a model ordinance for Corporate Accountability. It is available from Southwest Organizing Project, 211 10th St. SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102-2919 and from People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources (PODER), 55 N. IH 35 Ste. 205-B, Austin, TX 78702 for $11.50. Also from Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, 760 N 1st St., San Jose, CA 95112 and from Tonatierra, Box 24009, Phoenix, AZ 85006.

One startling statement -- weird actually, on page 129 -- states that Motorola Corporation is the largest employer in Arizona. My atlas says the 1990 population of Arizona was 3,677,985. The missing word must have been "single," since there are obviously many more self-employed and agriculturally active people in the state.

Which presents another question. If I were to choose between being fed or having a computer, there would be no contest. In fact, today I ate three times and didn't go near the computer. Agriculture produces what we all need daily and in a well-managed society cannot be allowed to be driven out by luxuries and non-essentials.

Back to my old song: The theory of agrarianism is that the culture of the soil is the best and most sensitive of vocations and that therefore it should have the economic preference and enlist the maximum number of workers.

Which brings me to thanks for the great [Joel] Bleifuss article on Corporations ["Know Thine Enemy: A Brief History of Corporations and What To Do About Them," 3/98 Progressive Populist]. Having read the two MAI and Silent Coup books I'm ready to boycott all but local, state-founded corporations. This leaves me nude and barefoot but does leave me with steak from Edinburg farm, great spinach salad tonight from J.J. Farms (backyards in Raytown, Mo.) and a hope to see agriculture and a peaceful economy again in its rightful first place.

Yours for unpolluted drinking water and local produce,

MARGIE EUCALYPTUS (displaced from Yuma, Ariz.)
44 E 53rd Terrace
Kansas City, MO 64112

P.S. Should I be repenting for producing my wonderful son, an electrical engineer, computer systems analyst at the local children's hospital? Ethical impact parenthood reports?

By the Left Flank

In the military, this expression, "by the left flank" means that everyone makes a 90-degree turn to the left and the platoon advances with a frontal attack, often with bayonets affixed. It signifies a definite change in the order of march. For some reason, this came to mind as I read the editorial "Getting Back to Basics" in the January 11 issue of In These Times. The editorial should be read for its own value. In essence, it points out that a few people own the wealth and are driving capitalism to its logical extremes and if we are to change that, we need to bring to bear our strength: our numbers.

I have been observing the LEFT for some twenty years or so. I began by reading The Nation and thinking that Chomsky and Cockburn had their heads properly screwed on. The more I read, the more I realized that writing was a large pastime for these people. Too many people are involved in the LEFT; too few committed. The problem is that a few rich people are running the world. If you want to change that you probably won't be successful with thousands of splinter groups with separate, sacred agendas.

Back to the In These Times editorial, "Most of all, we need a defining, universal principle." We need one name, one mission, one mailing list and one organization that can stand up to corporate power and other manifestations of the oligarchic strangle-hold on our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Not likely such cohesion will be achieved by consensus, nor will complete diversity always be achieved.

What would I do differently? I look around the world and see what goes on with other groups. I see in France that hundreds of thousands turn out and block the roads and streets, bringing commerce to a halt. Farmers with tractors, drivers with trucks and people with cars turn out massively to put the heat on their government to do the right thing. They bring the country to a halt and they get the attention of their government. Maybe we came close with one or two civil rights marches and some Vietnam war protests, but not since.

Pick an issue, say universal health care based on a single payer concept. That is not "politically feasible", say our politicians. But let's say that 60 million workers don't go to work until the bill is passed. Then, suddenly, the concept is feasible and serious work begins to make it happen.

Sixty million, you say! How in the world is that possible? Well, there are forty million people without health insurance, ten million of which are children. So there's thirty million people that could be aroused to strike for universal health care. There are fifteen million union members. They could be persuaded to join mass actions that would pressure the government to seriously consider universal health care. Add the students and the people over sixty and you can visualize the 60 million. When the representatives finally get the message, even though it is "politically infeasible," they will start wondering what else the people want done.

This will sound radical to some, like anarchy to some, stupid to others, improbable to many, un-American to the well-heeled (imagine taking the profits out of health care) and a waste of time to those who are afraid that it might work. But massive civil disobedience, even anarchy, is the only course open to the unarmed legions of the average citizen.

We need a charismatic leader, preferably one that is bulletproof. We need an issue that includes most people in a direct and serious way. We need to overcome the inertia and complacency of the average TV lizard. Let's try something different.

The LEFT needs to recruit support and lead the civil disobedience en masse. I believe that massive civil disobedience can win universal health care. I believe that, once it is won, our government will listen to the people on other important issues.

By the Left Flank -- March!

Denver, Colo.
email zspaulding@orci.com

Waiting for Train Wreck

Below are some quotes from Greider's book, One World, Ready or Not. I met Greider at a session at Bread for the World in Washington, D.C. about three years ago when he was writing this book. He was carrying a copy of The State of Working America by the Economic Policy Institute. Those of us attending asked what the book was about. He responded that everyone wanted a "bumper sticker" response. "Tax capital, not labor" was as close as he could come, remarking that there was so much more. We discussed the Tobin Tax and taxing speculation. He asked us a question: "When the economic s--- hits the fan, will you stand with the internationalists or the fascists?" He also remarked that the global economy on its present course would destroy the natural world.

It is heartbreaking to me that three years later, after being involved with The Other Economic Summit (TOES) in Denver and working since then against the [Multilateral Agreement on Investments] -- i.e., against trade at any cost, against trade that only benefits a small percentage of any given society, against trade that ignores the environment and people -- that we still have SO FAR to go. Large corporations are the only ones at the table discussing the global economy; missing is the environment, working people, human rights.

I am scared. I believe we are risking another big depression. My mother and her siblings lived through "The Great Depression," and I know what my family went through (See Hard Times by Studs Terkel if your family history has no memory of The Great Depression). The banks are fiddlefarting around dangerously -- actually breaking the law, i.e., the Glass-Steagall Act and the Bank Holding Company Act -- while Congress does nothing and the mainstream press writes nothing about it. Structural adjustment programs are coming to the U.S. big time, and most people don't even know what what SAPs are. To me, it's all the harmonizing down of any programs that are for people or the commonwealth or the environment.

There are so many people not even in the current economy, and the government and mainstream press talks about a "robust economy". As a person on another [email list] said, "If the economy is so robust, where is my damn job?" A $100 billion bailout is being discussed for the utilities industry to cover their "stranded costs" of closing down the nuclear power plants. This is the industry that told us the energy would be too cheap to meter.

Privatize social security without any questions or public discussion. Keep raising taxes on the poor and middle class and keep subsidizing the hell out of corporations. Bankruptcies -- personal and corporate -- are rising. A recent article by Cokie Roberts talked about the starting rise in hunger in the U.S. ClueLESS. Hunger in the U.S. is not surprising, if a person has had their eyes and ears open and alert. Health care, Medicare, Medicaid are being destroyed to the altar of the insurance industry. The amount of paper and its related costs are squeezing out money for care for people.

So many people are working so hard dragging so many bodies out of the river. When are people going to go up the river to see why people are falling in the river?

I wish I could move back to the Texas hill country (that's west of Austin), write poetry, plant wildflowers, watch the redbuds bloom in the spring, run a washeteria-cafe-dance hall, and live upstairs with my sweetie (husband).

There's going to be one hell of a train wreck, and not enough people are getting it. People just keep going to work, rushing through life, eat too much, try to find time for each other and their children, turn on the tv for information (See The More You Watch, The Less You Know by Danny Schecter).

Littleton, Colo.
Email emilie@ix.netcom.com

An Open Letter to Nobody

It's unlikely that anyone will read this but if I don't get it off my chest I'll burst.

Almost daily I receive a letter or a periodical narrating some dastardly goings on of "the government" or big business or both. Let me say to all of them, I BELIEVE YOU! SO WHAT? What can be done about it? Well I can't beg that question!

As I see it there is only one answer. Build a political party that can eventually get some good guys where it matters.

How can that be done? I don't know! But I have a few ideas.

Number one, two and three are MONEY! But I have to get around to that.

It seems to me that the people who put out The Nation, The Progressive, The Progressive Populist and a bunch more that I don't know about must know some honest to god left wingers with what it takes to head up a leadership vanguard. People who see both the forest and the trees but don't get hung up on twigs. People who can put ducks in a row. The few left wingers I know are like electrical particles with the same charge. No way can they stick together! Get a few together for five minutes and they are arguing about minutiae. They write, they talk, they say, "this is wrong," and, "we must do that," and they go on doing that ... just that. They are are all good folks but useless as tits on a bull for doing anything effective.

The kind of people we need are those who spread a big umbrella, i.e. come up with a PLATFORM, say the Constitution and Bill of Rights for starters and don't poke holes in it with a lot of splinters. Who say frankly, loudly and frequently, "sheath your toothpicks and splinters for Christ's sake. The big boys have us marginalized, divided and isolated enough; don't make matters worse. Our job is to gather people who see the trap laid for us by godless, atheistic capitalism and are so damned mad about it that they will send money to do something about it."

That's what we need! A trustworthy leadership group who stand for something we can all throw our back into.

A group which will build a war chest (money) and not spend it until its got enough millions in it to take the next step. It may take years but damnit nothing good has happened in the last 10 years; what's to be lost if we take the next 10 to arm ourselves. Maybe, just maybe, at the end of that time there will be a political party people can rally to. We don't have one now!

When it comes to money: just individual contributions with an annual cap, say $100 to keep out the bastards who infect and destroy with money.

Incidentally these guys had better have some influential buddies so they don't end up like Huey Newton!

Is there anybody out there who can do the job? I hope so but I doubt it.

South Gardiner, Maine
email rbaldwin@mint.net

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