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An American Microcosm

A Microcosm of the USA and Christianity

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

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The events of this past week have left the office of the American presidency in shambles, made the US the laughingstock of the world, and I – for one – am appalled at the state of my country. President Donald Trump – or at least so long as he remains president – has left all of Washington in disarray from the presidency on down. He is also proving once again, as president George W. Bush did after September 2001 and especially after March 2003, that those who vote straight conservative every election have very short memories. It is the Republican party who, prior to Bush 43, brought us endless wars, the 1995 government shutdown, Iran Contra, the Drug War, president Nixon and Watergate, and the Vietnam War and the phony “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” that started that war. They are also indirectly responsible for the assassinations of Rev. Dr. King and the Kennedy brothers, which makes them accessories to murder.

President Donald Trump is a microcosm of America because he represents what America represents, and as such is someone who is admired by many. Donald Trump represents the American dream of becoming wealthy from a capitalist economic system that allegedly gives everyone a fair shot at becoming a rich businessman or real estate tycoon like Donald Trump. But president Trump is finding out the hard way that being president of the United States is nothing at all like running a real estate empire! When he ran for election last year, he wanted a job that he wasn’t prepared to take on. Worse yet, he failed to appreciate the difficulty and long hours of being the US president. His assumption of the office of the President was poorly planned and is still being poorly executed. When it comes to the presidency, it appears that Donald Trump is a fish out of water. Our country, therefore, is in serious trouble, and this situation is serious enough to warrant our undivided attention.

So president Trump is more than a microcosm of America, he represents a microcosm of capitalism. As such, Trump represents everything that is wrong with America, and everything that is wrong with capitalism. The ugly truth is that Donald Trump didn’t become a mega-billionaire because he is an exceptionally shrewd individual, or because he has some kind of inside track in the business world. Donald Trump got rich by screwing people every chance he got. Since Donald Trump has been elected president, he has been sued 134 times, according to the Boston Globe. He has reportedly filed bankruptcy at least 4 times since the 1980’s, evidently for the sole express purpose of stiffing his creditors while short-selling the property(s) in question. Donald Trump is a human shark, and a big, menacing “great white” at that! He reveals capitalism for the essentially predatory economic system that it truly is. Trump is also a perfect example of the fact that, in a capitalist economy where everything is organized in a hierarchical manner, there are only a handful who end up at the top of the heap, just like Donald Trump. Everyone else winds up underneath, where many of them get financially crushed without mercy.

Moreover, Donald Trump represents all that is corrupt with Washington, D.C. Washington is overburdened with corruption from within, and crushing debt from without. In fact, Washington is so heavily laden with debt and corruption that it is slowly sinking into the soil it sits on. Not only that, but the entire District of Columbia is literally sinking, according to the US Geological Survey named in a 2015 article from CNN.com:

Washington, D.C. Has a ‘Fore-bulge’ Problem

By Jareen Imam, CNN, Updated Sat. August 1, 2015

 

(CNN) Washington, D.C., where the powers that reign over the United States reside, is sinking into the ocean.

Scientists predict that the land underneath the nation’s capital will drop more than 6 inches in the next 100 years, according to new research from the University of Vermont and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Surprisingly though, Washington’s sinking land is an entirely independent phenomenon from the rising sea levels, which scientists have attributed to climate change in the past.

For this study, researchers examined the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most rapidly subsiding and lowest-elevation surfaces, which borders the Chesapeake Bay.

The area is going through what geologists call a “fore-bulge collapse,” also known as the reason for many of Washington’s foreseeable geological woes. During the last ice age, a mile-high ice sheet pushed the land under the Chesapeake Bay region up. When the ice sheet melted 20,000 years ago, the bulging land began to settle back down.

“It’s a bit like sitting on one side of a water bed filled with very thick honey… when you stand, the bulge comes down again,” said former USGS geologist Ben DeJong, one of the lead authors on the study, who conducted the research at University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.”

President Trump is also a microcosm of the current state of mainstream Christianity, whether denominational or otherwise. In spite of doing all the things I already wrote about, president Trump is a regular churchgoer. President Trump, like much of the rest of America, seems to think he can do whatever is expedient for himself and his family real estate empire, and he undoubtedly calls himself ‘blessed’ because of it all. Well-to-do mainstream Christians are filled with people just like that every Sunday morning, believing God has blessed them when all they really did was to help themselves to all they could carry away from the ‘negotiating table’. Or sometimes, whatever they can take by force, it happens every day. They go to church every Sunday as a token of acknowledging their sinful natures and professing their devout beliefs, but then they go back to doing the same things the following week! Jesus had something to say about this issue, and I quote: “Looking at his disciples he said, ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you who hunger, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” (Luke chapter 6, verses 20-22)

But then Jesus continues: “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6, verses 24-26) So based on this quote from our Lord and Savior, those who think they are richly blessed by God are actually on their way to hell! These are the people who think life is all about accumulating as much as we can, when in fact life is all about the legacy we leave behind. Instead of being focused on ourselves, we’re supposed to be focused on Christ and the blood he shed for us all! But what are today’s churches focused on? The bottom line, which is propelled by church membership and the money those members donate! Christianity isn’t about Christ at all; Jesus is more of an afterthought than anything else, and this is wrong!

Pulitzer prize winning author Chris Hedges was asked about corruption in churches during a forum with Mr. Robert Scheer, who said of Mr. Hedges, “There’s a complexity to your view. You come out of the mainstream Protestant Church. Your father, who is a minister, is a man you had enormous respect for, championed gay rights, civil rights when it was not popular. And I just wonder, and I know you resent when I say you have a prophetic voice, since I know nothing about scripture I probably don’t know anything about prophetic voices, but nonetheless it does seem to me your strength and clarity comes out of your Christian background.”

Chris Hedges responded, “Yeah, without question. And what I’m willing to do, which the mainstream church is not, is to denounce the Christian right as Christian heretics [applause]. You don’t have to, as I did, spend three years at Harvard Divinity School to realize that Jesus didn’t come to make us rich [laughter]. And he certainly didn’t come to make Pat Robertson and Joel Osteen rich. And what they have done is acculturate the worst aspects of American imperialism, capitalism, chauvinism, violence and bigotry into the Christian religion. And again let’s go back to Wiemar and the rise of Nazism. We saw the same thing in the so-called German Christian Church, which fused the iconography and language of Christianity with Nazism. It’s not a new phenomenon. It was the minority within that church, Bonhoeffer, Niemoller, Karl Barth, Schweizer who created the underground Confessing Church. And my great mentor at Harvard Divinity School, James Luther Adams [applause], was at the University of Heidelberg in 1935 and 1936 and dropped out and joined the Confessing Church. And when I had him in the early ’80s at Harvard, he used to tell us that when we were his age we would all be fighting the Christian fascists. Because, he understood that the Weimarization of the American working class, essentially pushing (America’s) working population into utter despair and hopelessness, coupled with a religious movement that fused national and religious symbols, was a recipe for fascism. And I think the great failure of the liberal tradition that I come out of is they were too frightened and too timid to stand up. I don’t know why they spent all the years in seminary if they didn’t realize that when they walked out the door they were going to have to fight for it. And they didn’t fight for it.”

Jesus said it, the apostle Paul wrote it, and I still believe it: There will be no cowards in heaven. Period, end of story! We as Christians have a moral obligation to stand up to tyranny, and to oppose greed and materialism as being the very antithesis of what it truly means to be an authentic follower of Jesus Christ, the Son of God! Moreover, the Bible has a few other things to say about rich people who are obsessed with obtaining even more wealth, just like president Trump, and I quote just a few of the many examples in the Bible:

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Matthew 6:19-21

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:33-34

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

1 Timothy 6:17-19

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

As you all can see, the above quotes, combined with the farcical nature of the Trump presidency and the corrupt nature of America’s political and economic systems, are a microcosm of what is wrong with America, capitalism and Christianity. I’m trying to sound the alarm about this because I see danger ahead, and we had better begin preparing for it now while we still have a little time left. Better hurry, too, or it will be too late.

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More Injustice: Left In the Dust by Those Entrusted to Lead

Our Political, Business and Religious Leaders Are

Ignoring Their Taxpayers, Workers and Membership

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

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Sooner or later, it happens to each of us. There always will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change or even understand. Maybe you’ve been laid off from a job you’ve held for years. Perhaps you’ve experienced a nasty divorce (been there, done that). Or maybe the crisis is more subtle: One suddenly realizes they’ll never have the life they dreamed of living. Any life-changing moment can knock a person down. But it can also open doors if one learns how to “fall upward.”

Older Americans like myself face a two-sided problem: many religious leaders are paying more attention to the collection plate than to us, and the government has been trampling its constituency underfoot for decades while pandering to Wall Street and corporate America. President Trump has already started renegotiating trade agreements, but in many states like Georgia where I live, the minimum wage is still stuck at $7.25 hourly. Much of contemporary religion is geared toward teaching people how to navigate the first half of their lives, when they’re building careers and families, a kind of “goal-oriented” spirituality. Yet there’s less help for people dealing with the challenges of aging: age discrimination in the workplace (which is rampant), the loss of health, the death of friends, and coming to terms with mistakes that cannot be undone.

God can function as a spiritual survival guide for hard times as millions of Americans young and old struggle to cope with “falling”: losing their homes, careers and status. The phrase “falling upward” describes a paradox. Nearly everybody will fall in life because they’ll be confronted with some type of catastrophic loss or abject failure. Yet failure can lead to growth if a person makes the right decisions. I’ve met people who, because of the loss of things and security, have been able to find grace, freedom and new horizons. They have learned to make the best of what can often be a bad situation.

If you’re falling in any area of your life, one of the first skills to learn is accepting surprises. It’s easy for people to turn bitter when things don’t go as planned. God sees such people all the time, whether throwing tantrums at the airport because of long lines or flocking to angry rallies in opposition to some form of social change. If one doesn’t know how to deal with exceptions, surprise and spontaneity by the time they’re my age, one become a predictable series of responses of paranoia, blame and defensiveness. These circumstances often teach similar lessons about hard times:

[1] Suffering is necessary,

[2] the “false self” must be abandoned, and –

[3] everything belongs, even the sad, absurd and futile parts.

People have learned these hard lessons for centuries, sometimes through myth, but most of the time by trial and error. They must first experience humiliation, loss and suffering before finding enlightenment. They are often forced on their journey by a crisis.

Events like the evaporation of a retirement fund or the death of a spouse can force us to summon strength we didn’t know we had. Forced liquidations of businesses that were once thriving enterprises is another example that comes to mind. The key is not resisting the crisis. We must learn to allow the circumstances of God and life to break us out of our egocentric responses to everything. If we allow ‘the others’ – other people, other events, other religions or cultures – to influence us, we just keep growing. That growth, though, is accompanied by death – the death of the “false self”. The false self is the part of our selves tied to our achievements and possessions. When our false self dies, we start learning how to base our happiness on more eternal sources. We start drawing from our walk with Christ. We learn to distinguish from the essential self and the self that’s only window dressing.

Those who break through the crisis and lose their false selves become different people: Less judgmental, more generous and better able to ignore the evil, selfish or stupid deeds of others. It may sound esoteric, but many of us have met older people like this. They possess what I call “a muted enlightenment” – they’ve suffered but they still smile and give. I’ve seen that in the wonderful older people in my life. There’s a kind of gravitas they have. There’s an easy smile on their faces. These are the people who laugh, who heal, who build bridges, who don’t turn bitter. This “muted enlightenment” shouldn’t be confined to older people. I’ve met 11-year-old children in cancer wards who are in the second half of life, and I have met 61-year-old men like me who are still in the first half of life.

I challenge the popular notion that success is a natural result of being religious. Our culture is prone to imagine that growth takes place in a sort of constant, upward movement. Even our religious culture tends to focus on success and stability as ideals for religious growth, while overlooking the grace of failure, from which far more growth originates. With Progressive Christianity tradition, loss, collapse and failure have always been seen as not only unavoidable, but even necessary on the path to wisdom, freedom and personal maturity. I know older people like myself, all of whom have vast work experience, who struggled to rebuild their identities after they poured much of their earlier lives’ energies into professional and personal success. That is what happened to me after 2008, when I found myself forced out of the technology profession after an 18-month absence due to several health issues.

Our culture tends to be youth-oriented, and a lot of spirituality is youth oriented. But our elders are the embodiment of the wisdom that life matters at a much deeper level than what we can achieve and produce. Imperfect people are sometimes more equipped than perfect people to help those who are struggling. The person who never makes a mistake and always manages to obey the rules is often a person devoid of compassion. He or she sees people for whom the wheels have fallen off and they wonder ‘what’s wrong with them’. But the person who feels that he or she has ruined their life often has more capacity for humility and compassion. I’m embarrassed as I’m getting older about how much of my energy and vitality as a younger man was driven by my ego and a win-lose mentality.

As I’ve gotten older I find myself driven by something altogether different: The need for rest, and a need for more time for contemplation. As a teacher once told me, “The first half of life, you write the text. The second half of your life is when you write the commentary. You have to process what it all meant.” I will be challenged to follow his and my own advice, and I encourage all of you to do the same. I will spend less energy on my “false self” as my old self dissolves. It will be a relief to me when the process is over. I am ready, though, to fall upward. If I lose my position as a web minister, author and respected church member, I would still feel secure. Most of us don’t learn this until it is taken away, like losing the security of your 401K as your entire career evaporates before your eyes. Then the learning either starts or you circle the wagons.

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America Isn’t Done Yet — Not By a Long Shot!

America Reinvented, Mankind Revived

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

(excerpt from chapter 8 of my book, “Occupying America: We shall Overcome“)

 

 

Old-style authoritarianism and hierarchical management have worked well throughout history because of restrictive educational methods that taught the masses how to be workers, while teaching leadership skills to only an elite few. But by the present-day early 21st century, computer technology plus the Internet and other modern scientific advancements have both equalized and greatly accelerated educational opportunities, while evaporating 19th and 20th century racial and economic barriers. Internet-based distribution of educational resources will make re-education throughout one’s life a fundamental right – as it should be – instead of the luxury it is now.

 

 

Contrast the industrial revolution with the early 21st century, where vast quantities of data and information that were formerly only available to the best educated are now available to everyone instantaneously and equally, and at nominal cost. I believe that the ultimate outcome from virtual education in the workplace of the 21st century will be that every worker will have virtual management capability with direct participation in overall enterprise operation, and with unconditional equality. However, unconditional equality must be pursued as a genuine reform that is both the law of the land plus mandatory primary and secondary school curriculum in order to succeed. Otherwise equality becomes little more than an abstract concept of philosophical debate, being part of our world yet outside of the mainstream of life. Because, with social equality comes economic equality, and that is the part that the well off (not to mention dictators and racist hate-mongers) have a big problem with. The rich and powerful, who have twisted around the original reasons for the existence of capitalism to fit their own financial objectives, are unwilling to give up the unfair advantage they have taken from the rest of us working Americans. It appears that we will have to take back our equality through mass civil unrest, economic boycotts and other related protests and disruptions by any means at our disposal if the economic playing field is to be leveled in 21st century America. Power, a famous man once said, is never relinquished voluntarily – it must be taken by force.

 

Furthermore, traditional authority has lost its credibility because so much breach of trust on the part of established authority exists in America today. The backlash from all of this fraud and breach of trust among our leaders will be that, in place of traditional authority, small groups of multitasking worker-managers will replace large and inefficient public corporations with a lateral authority of peers connected via the Internet. Most modern companies will have to give traditional manager-worker relationships an extreme makeover as they permanently eliminate many layers of government bureaucracy and corporate management while making American business far leaner and much more agile in the new 21st century global business environment.

 

 

Only by slashing entire layers of management within companies and governments, and then replacing it with an Internet-based virtual command structure where every employee takes the initiative and has an equal part – including employee ownership – can American businesses survive the 21st century. Instead of waiting for orders from on high in a 20th century style bureaucratic workplace, workers in America’s new virtual economy would work from home or from small businesses, organizing themselves on their own initiative into specialized teams or micro-businesses that will be connected through the world wide web. Modern American workers will decide collectively rather than bureaucratically how any given company is going to be managed, with authority and administration being delegated laterally in a team environment so that every employee or contractor can have equal access and mutual input.

 

 

Organized civil disobedience to further the cause of and to re-establish the American middle and working classes can be initiated by setting up a web-based “virtual management” business and government model that competes with (or maybe even runs in spite of) the present hierarchical brick-and-mortar governmental and management structure. Okay, so how do we disrupt the wealthy power establishment’s bureaucratic chain of command with one that is omni-dimensional? From my vantage point, this should be accomplished with a group or team command structure that distributes instructions laterally and equally to a group of peers via the Internet and social media, satisfying the needs of citizens and clients by giving governments and companies infinite flexibility while remaining lean and profitable. So very lean, in fact, that the era of big blue-chip corporations, not to mention colossal bureaucratic governments, is likely at its end. In its place, the golden age of multitudes of small e-businesses organized as a honeycomb of many interconnected virtual cottage industries is already well underway, as the growth history of the Internet and e-commerce continues to prove. The days of authoritarian, bureaucratic bullying that enforces the management of populations through mass manipulation and control is finally and mercifully coming to an end. Virtual management does away with often-abusive and unnecessary authoritarian enforcement by replacing it with an Internet-based management model that equalizes opportunity by equalizing access to employment, to education, to health care and to the management process.

 

 

Besides learning new and better ways of management, allocation and sharing of resources, and decentralization, we will also need to completely rethink our educational systems from pre-K to post-graduate. Instead of our children being coerced into thinking and acting similarly as is currently the case in America’s schools, I envision an Internet-based educational system of infinite dimensions. Let new virtual courses be made available free of charge that teach clean-burning energy generation technologies, as well as new communication, robotic and computer technologies. These and other complex courses should be made available even at the elementary school level, including computer-based courses in environmental conservation and reconstruction as well as the new vocational trades of the 21st century. I think we very much need to expose our children to a space-based curriculum, including such things as new aerospace technologies, new propulsion systems, new robotic technologies and other new ways to explore the universe. Understand that the colonization of space is mankind’s new frontier, and so the United States should be a world leader by becoming the world’s teacher regarding space-based education and technology.

 

 

Liberal education being equally and unconditionally available to everyone causes all citizens to become peers and equals, with little or no social distinction between incomes, classes and occupations. Formal or vocational education that becomes equally available to all without cost via the Internet eliminates social, class and economic barriers that have existed for centuries. Unconditional social and economic equality in the 21st century includes the death of hierarchy and bureaucracy as we have known them, with the added benefit of putting the final nail in the coffin of dictatorship. With every US citizen being able to obtain advanced education repeatedly and at will regardless of economic status, the need for close employee supervision and for tiered company management within large bureaucracies will fade into history.

 

 

How do we eliminate class disparity and racial, social and economic inequality? What new weapon can the USA forge against foreign competition for American jobs, for the manufacturing of American products here at home, and to correct the current and dangerous American foreign trade deficit? How can we give working Americans better opportunities for advancement while closing the gap between the wealthy and the less fortunate? By having equal access to Internet-based education for every citizen for their entire lifetime regardless of race or color, social or economic status, gender, religion, age, disability, marital status or sexual orientation, and all without having to leave home – that’s how! I am advocating no less than every American citizen having lifetime access to a free web-based public education system, with a curriculum that can be changed instantly in order to stay abreast of market changes, and that does away with transportation issues. Equally accessible education for an entire lifetime not only restores the global US leadership position in quality education, it will make American workers more skilled than any others by allowing us all the chance to obtain multiple degrees, diplomas or professional certifications over a lifetime. Although we Americans can never work as cheaply as workers in Asian or Latin-American sweatshops, American workers and managers can and should harness the power of the Internet in such a way as to be so much better educated compared to those overseas that it will cause US business leaders to think twice about outsourcing and off-shoring American jobs or closing American factories.

 

 

A flexible, scalable Internet-based curriculum that can be accessed from any world-wide-web connection without cost, and that can be edited on-the-fly by any publisher so as to keep up with market changes and scientific advancements, has advantages that 20th-century-style paper textbooks cannot begin to compete with. Having an adult population that can quickly reeducate itself at will in any subject combined with a web-based, interactive educational system that grades our kids on the same grade-point-average system that colleges use, will guarantee that the entire US public school system will regain its top ranking as the educational standard bearer of the entire planet. If Americans want to stop the outsourcing of our careers overseas, we can best accomplish this with a lifelong educational system that boasts a curriculum that can be changed as fast or faster than any market condition or any competitor’s strategy anytime, anywhere. It is from this all-new flexible, scalable and virtual educational system that tomorrow’s space conquerors and medical miracle makers will come from.

 

 

The real truth is that the needs of America’s job market are changing so rapidly that a system of continuous Internet-based education for America’s entire work force and their children, one whose curriculum can be edited at will and one that can be accessed from home or work, will be essential to maintaining and enhancing the standard of living for 21st century Americans. Going to college and getting a four year degree doesn’t work like it used to, mainly because the vocation that one may be training oneself to perform may be off-shored or right-sized to the third world for only pennies per hour within four years or less from today. On the other hand, various accredited courses dedicated to relatively short-term Internet-based vocational education where American workers and their children can get a new degree, diploma or professional certification in only months instead of years will be far more useful than the antiquated educational system that we are all currently stuck with. Workers and managers both need to have an ongoing and continuous national education system available to them at will and without cost so that they may compete on a global scale for jobs in the global economy of the 21st century.

 

 

So now it’s time to put all this together. If we truly want to renew our country and improve American society, we are going to have to start with the way we are being educated. What direction should 21st century education take? If we’re going to teach our kids what they will need to know when they grow up, then teach them about how we can explore outer space. That’s the new frontier, and that’s where mankind’s future lies. The time has come to renew and reinvigorate our country’s space program, and to directly link this space program renewal to all public and private education. When I think of the Apollo missions of the 1960’s and 1970’s, I think first of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, and of those dozen other astronauts who came after him, all of whom positively inspired generations. Technologies previously unheard of were developed that will continue to benefit mankind into the foreseeable future. Tens of thousands of high-quality jobs were created by the moon missions and more recently by the space shuttle missions. A new, vigorous manned space program may be very expensive, but it would create well over 300,000 new white-collar jobs, plus at least 300,000 more blue-collar and contract employment opportunities. Doing without one will be infinitely more expensive. After all, how does one calculate lost potential? Look around and you will notice we are drifting as a nation. What are we doing that is clearly impressive? We fight wars that stimulate massive transfers of wealth to tiny minorities of people via conquest, downsizing, outsourcing and right-sizing. We waste time in moronic meetings that produce nothing. I think it is high freakin’ time that we start producing again, how about you? A new space initiative will ultimately turn the weak jobs recovery of 2012 and the threat of another economic recession into something far more tangible and robust. If we are going to have meetings, then we will meet to discuss a new plan on how to build mankind’s first colony on the moon, a colony that will be the jumping-off point for exploring the solar system. Our great nation is surely capable of such an accomplishment, we urgently need this and other related new space industries, and space-based education is what our children must learn in order to secure the future of all mankind.

 

 

People are complaining that America lacks jobs. Part of the reason is that so many middle class jobs were outsourced overseas over the last 10 to 20 years. But we have within ourselves the power to turn this situation around by creating new and better ones. Space travel, exploration, and tourism are the new growth industries of the 21st century. According to space.com, we will go from several space shuttle flights each year over the last ten years to several orbital launches per day by the end of this decade. We will need space ship builders, people to service and maintain them, and people to fly them. Lots of them – so many, in fact, that there will be hundreds of thousands employed by this shiny, new American industry, and America will continue to be the technology leader so long as we apply ourselves in our vocations, exercising all due diligence, to maintain our position of leadership.

 

 

Where will all these new astronauts come from? If we start teaching this to our kids now, they’ll be ready by the time they grow up, and the technology will be ready for them as well. The international space station currently in orbit above the earth will have to be replaced sometime after the year 2020. As I wrote earlier, we will have the option of putting the next generation space station into earth orbit, or to build a permanent one on the moon. The time to start training people is now. Plus there’s all the other new industries I mentioned earlier in this chapter – such as robotics and clean energy generation – and others I have not, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, stem cell research, and the ongoing advances in computer science and medicine. All together, it’s going to be a brave new world whether we are all ready for it or not, because it’s already arriving.

 

 

Reject materialism and vanity. Embrace peace and tranquil coexistence among us all. Reject excessive profit and the social imbalance it creates. Let’s beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. Let’s melt down all the guns and make metal housing units for the homeless. Feed the hungry children, house the homeless, be a volunteer. Together we can all make the world a better place.

 

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Mass Unemployment Equals Social Injustice

Mass Unemployment, US Job Losses Are a Social Injustice

I have always believed that being a good Christian means standing up against social injustice. The Bible says in the New Testament, “Faith without works is dead”, and I’m a firm believer in putting that into practice. One social injustice that I wrote about in my 2011 book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto” is the outsourcing overseas of what used to be good American jobs. I have some ideas about what is wrong or unjust in this great country of ours, and the following is just one example of what I would like to see fixed within society at large. I am talking about the epidemic of long-term unemployment, of which I was a victim throughout the decade of the 2000’s.

Now that a few Democrats and the remnants of the AFL-CIO are waking up to the destructive impact of jobs outsourcing on the US economy, something the American people have known about for years, globalism’s advocates have resurrected a discredited finding of several years ago that jobs outsourcing by US corporations increases employment and wages in the US. This facade of lies has to be maintained by the elite 1% at all costs. There can be no questioning that globalism is good for us. The Wall Street Journal, a supposed bastion of truth, recently stated that “the fact is that for every job outsourced to Bangalore, nearly two jobs are created in Buffalo and other American cities.” I bet Buffalo “and other American cities” would like to know where these jobs are.

There are countless examples of this all across the country. All one has to do is drive through any given US city and they will see a downtown with up to hundreds of thousands of square feet of vacant office space, and deserted suburban shopping centers and strip malls. If anyone would care to visit my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia they would be similarly struck by block after block of deserted and boarded up homes, deserted factories and office buildings, not to mention vacant downtown storefronts.

American cities everywhere are looking frantically for solutions to this commercial and residential real estate crisis. Here in Atlanta, construction has begun on the “Atlanta Beltline”, a massive inner city revitalization project of mixed residential, retail and office space developments that encircles the downtown and midtown areas. Elsewhere, Detroit is trying to shrink itself by 40 square miles. Former suburban areas filled with abandoned houses are being converted to agricultural use, with former residential lots becoming gardens so impoverished citizens can feed themselves.

On October 25, 2011, 60 Minutes had a program on unemployment in Silicon Valley, where formerly high-earning professionals have been out of work for two years and, today, cannot even find part-time $9 an hour jobs at Target. With a job market like this, is is any wonder there is so much vacant real estate?

The claim that jobs outsourced by US corporations increases domestic employment in the US is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated (excluding the biggest one, which is the so-called “Federal Reserve”) on the American public. Based on a bit of research that I have done from an economics standpoint, I can tell you that our country’s governmental and business leaders have reached this erroneous conclusion by counting the growth in multinational jobs in the U.S. without adjusting the data to reflect the acquisition of existing firms by multinationals and for existing firms turning themselves into multinationals by establishing foreign operations for the first time. There was no new multinational employment in the U.S. Absolutely zero. Existing employment simply moved into the multinational category from a change in the status of firms to multinational. American workers have become expendable because corporate America has decided they are too expensive to keep around. As I mentioned above, I know this to be true because it happened to me.

The jobs that replaced the ones that were outsourced overseas for pennies on the dollar consist of waitresses and bartenders, health care and social services (largely ambulatory health care), retail clerks, and while the bubble lasted, construction. These are not the high-tech, high-paying jobs that the “New Economy” promised, and they are not jobs that can be associated with global corporations, nor would I associate any jobs having an income level that low with “change I can believe in”. It’s more like “change that scares the crap out of me”. Moreover, these domestic service jobs are themselves scarce. Just ask anybody trying to find one. Until earlier this year, the construction jobs had all but vanished. But facts have nothing to do with it. Did the Wall Street Journal ever wonder how it was possible to have simultaneously millions of new good-paying middle class jobs and virtually the worst income inequality in the developed world, with all income gains accruing to the mega-rich?

In mid-October, Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs puppet Tim Geithner gave a speech in California in which Geithner said that the solution is to “educate more engineers.” What our esteemed Treasury Secretary either didn’t know or forgot to mention is that we already have more engineers than we have jobs for them. In a recent poll, a Philadelphia marketing and research firm called “Twentysomething” (search that) found that 85% of recent college graduates planned to move back home with parents. Even if members of the “boomerang generation” find jobs, the jobs don’t pay enough to support an independent existence. And let’s not forget that nearly all of these recent graduates have student loans with payoff balances in the tens of thousands of dollars. This in turn ruins their credit, which makes finding employment even more difficult.

The mainstream media is utterly useless. Reporters repeat the lie that the unemployment rate is 8.3%. This is a specially concocted unemployment rate that does not count most of the unemployed. The government’s own more inclusive rate stands at 17%. Statistician John Williams, who counts unemployment the way it is supposed to be counted, finds the unemployment rate to be 22%. In my most recent book, “Occupying America: We Shall Overcome”, I estimated the total unemployment rate to be 24%.

The main stream media manages to turn bad news into supposedly good news. Recently a monthly gain of 82,000 new private sector jobs was hyped, owing to the fact that it takes around 150,000 new jobs each month to keep pace with labor force growth. In other words, 82,000 new jobs each month would be a monthly deficit of 68,000 jobs. To keep our eyes off the loss of jobs to outsourcing, policymakers and their minions in the financial press blame US unemployment on alleged currency manipulation by China and on the financial crisis. The financial crisis itself is blamed by Republicans on low-income Americans who took out mortgages that they could not afford, and on US “entitlement” programs. In other words, the problem is China and the greedy American poor who tried to live above their means, or who are allegedly too lazy to work. With this being the American mindset, you can see why nothing can be done to save the economy.

We need to stop blaming poor people and minorities for America’s problems. If anyone wants to know what is wrong with our country, the answers are located inside the D.C. Beltway, and they are there in abundance. This country can end or greatly limit unemployment, homelessness, poverty and economic inequality by simply reeducating its population. The US is the only remaining developed country that does not do this for its citizens. There is ample legal and historical precedent for addressing this issue, and it comes in the form of the G.I. Bill that Congress passed after the end of WW2. America’s situation at the time was the existence of a glut of manufacturing capacity from former armaments factories combined with a overabundance of untrained workers in the form of hundreds of thousands of former soldiers returning home. This excess supply of human capital needed to be retrained, and that’s exactly what the G.I. Bill did. The government paid for their retraining, the former GI’s got a college education which turned them into wage-earners and taxpayers. The same can and should be done today, and I think it should also be a jumping-off point for overhauling or replacing the US public school system.

If they could do it in the 1940’s, why can’t this be accomplished now? Take all the long-term unemployed, particularly older workers like I was, and send them back to school for up to two years (four year programs would be available at extra cost using my idea), and allow them to earn the degree, diploma or professional certification of their choice. Do the same for all parolees and those on felony probation, as well as all homeless individuals who are judged healthy enough to work – anyone who might otherwise find it nearly impossible to find employment. Keeping them all busy will go a long way toward keeping them out of trouble, getting them off the street, and keeping all but the sickest of them out of the shelters. Should the government pick up the tab for this? No way, let corporate America be compelled by law to pay for the retraining of these still-valuable US workers! If they can afford to send our jobs overseas for pennies on the dollar, then paying for up to 2 years of school to teach new trades to anyone who wants retraining should similarly only cost them pennies on the dollar relative to their considerable annual profits. These multinational corporations already engage in enough tax dodging and evasion to pay for all of it.

No government will admit its mistakes, especially when it can blame foreigners. China is being made the scapegoat for American failure. An entire industry has grown up that points its finger at China and away from 20 years of corporate outsourcing of US jobs and 11 years of horrifically expensive and absolutely pointless US wars. “Currency manipulation” is the charge. However, the purpose of the Chinese peg to the US dollar is not currency manipulation. When the Chinese government decided to take its broken communist economy into a market economy, the government understood that it needed foreign confidence in its currency. It achieved that by pegging its currency to the dollar, signaling that China’s money was as sound as the US dollar. At that time, China, of course, could not credibly give its currency a higher dollar value. As time has passed, the irresponsible and foolish policies of the US have eroded the dollar’s value, and as the Chinese currency is pegged to the dollar, its value has moved down with the dollar. The Chinese have not manipulated the peg in order to make their currency less valuable. To the contrary, in 2006 the exchange rate was a little more than 8 yuan to the dollar. Today it is 6.6 yuan to the dollar — a 17.5% revaluation of the yuan. The US government blames the US trade deficit with China on an undervalued Chinese currency. However, the Chinese currency has risen 17.5% against the dollar since 2006, but the US trade deficit with China has not declined. This is indicative of gross mismanagement on the part of US leadership.

The major cause of the US trade deficit with China is “globalism” or the practice, enforced by Wall Street and Wal-Mart, of US corporations outsourcing their production for US markets to China in order to improve the bottom line by lowering labor costs.

Most of the tariffs that the congressional idiots want to put on “Chinese” imports would, therefore, fall on the off-shored production of US corporations. When these American brand goods, such as Apple computers, are brought to US markets, they enter the US as imports. Thus, the tariffs will be applied to US corporate outsourced output as well as to the exports of Chinese companies to the US. So, the correct conclusion as I see it is that the US trade deficit with China is the result of “globalism” or jobs off-shoring, not Chinese currency manipulation.

One major thing that is being overlooked – whether intentionally or not I cannot say – is the explosive growth of the Chinese economy. In 2011, China pulled ahead of Japan and displaced it as the world’s number two economy. At that growth rate, and with no additional growth calculated for the next 4 years, the Chinese economy will surpass that of the United States by no later than mid-2016, only 4 years away. Another important point always overlooked is that the US is dependent on China for many manufactured products including high technology products that are no longer produced in the US. Revaluation of the Chinese currency would raise the dollar price of these products in the US. The greater the revaluation, the greater the price rise. The impact on already declining US living standards would be dramatic. When US policymakers argue that the solution to America’s problems is a stronger Chinese currency, they are yet again putting the burden of adjustment on the out-of-work, indebted, and foreclosed American population.

Meanwhile, what is happening on the home front here in America? Well in excess of 21 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed. At least 4-5 million of those are working one or more part-time jobs. One in seven Americans is on food stamps, including one in four children. Half of American kids in public schools require government-subsidized lunch programs because their parents can’t even pack a lunch for them. In minority neighborhoods that figure jumps to an absolutely horrific 90%. Over three-fourths of all college graduates move back home with their parents after they graduate because they can’t find jobs. Here in Atlanta on any given night it is estimated there are up to 10,000 homeless persons sleeping in their cars, under bridges, in cardboard boxes and other improvised shelters. That’s about the same as New York or any other major US city, give or take. In the richest country in the world, this entire crisis of homelessness and unemployment is simply inexcusable, it is an egregious social and economic injustice, and it is tantamount to financial rape. I will stand up against this evil until I draw my last breath, so help me God, and I implore and exhort each of you to join me in fighting this just cause. Everybody has a right to basic shelter. Even the cave men lived in caves, and they didn’t have money as we know it. Everybody has a right to a livelihood and a living wage. Telling any human being that they can’t have an income, that they “have no right” to support themselves and be self-sufficient, or that they are unwanted and unneeded at every turn, is an outrageous human rights violation – and a civil rights violation as well – of the highest order. The current job market looks more like a slave auction every day. We either start fighting back or we will lose it all, it’s that simple. Do you want to stand tall with God on our side, or will we all wimp out and allow ourselves to be crushed under the weight of the Machine? Stand against injustice, seize your inalienable human rights, and make a stand for human dignity, or face oblivion. Who is with me today?

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