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Free book excerpt from “Occupying America” by Pastor Paul J. Bern

Occupying America: book contents plus free sample

Table of Contents

Chapter One

A Commentary On Modern Revolutions ———– page 3

Chapter Two

The Occupation Chronicles —————————— page 27

Chapter Three

A Documentary of a Broken System —————— page 56

Chapter Four

Capitalist Implosion: The Warning Signs ———– page 94

Chapter Five

Class Warfare: The Attack of The Elites On The 99%

——————————————————————— page 128

Chapter Six

Counterattack: The Second US Civil War ———– page 168

Chapter Seven

Ways to Replace a Broken System ——————— page 211

Chapter Eight

The United States of America: Under New Management

———————————————————————- page 249

Book Excerpt

Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down. What we are witnessing can also be seen as a demand to finally have a conversation we were all supposed to have back in 2008. There was a moment, after the near-collapse of the world’s financial architecture, when anything seemed possible.

Everything we’d been told for the last decade turned out to be a lie. Markets did not run themselves; creators of financial instruments were not infallible geniuses; and debts did not really need to be repaid – in fact, money itself was revealed to be a political instrument, trillions of dollars of which could be whisked in or out of existence overnight if governments or central banks required it. It is nothing but a legalized Ponzi scheme, and all Ponzi schemes eventually implode.

When the history is finally written, though, it’s likely all of this tumult – beginning with the Arab Spring – will be remembered as the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire. Thirty years of relentless prioritizing of propaganda over substance, and snuffing out anything that might look like a political basis for opposition, might make the prospects for the young protesters look bleak; and it’s clear that the rich are determined to seize as large a share of the spoils as remain, tossing a whole generation of young people to the wolves in order to do so. But history is not on their side. As I see it, if the occupiers finally manage to break the 30-year stranglehold that has been placed on the human imagination, as in those first weeks after September 2008, everything will once again be on the table – and the occupiers of Wall Street and other cities around the US will have done us the greatest favor anyone possibly can.

The Wall Street protests must grow and spread across this country because they are the only realistic hope for change remaining for the 99% of Americans falling behind in this broken economy. Sad to say, but democracy in the land of the free and home of the brave simply no longer works. Big corporations and the wealthy have hijacked the political system for decades with their hefty donations to various political campaigns. Their contributions guarantee that bought-off politicians pass laws and tax breaks to their benefit. It is no secret, everyone is aware of how the system works, and it must be called for what it is: legalized bribery.

With traditional democratic political methods useless, what recourse do ordinary Americans have left? We are now witnessing the only real avenue left: ordinary citizens taking to the streets and demanding change to the rigged economic system that leaves 99% of them behind. It is only a start, but a vital one. Every day more people are awakening to the stark realization that the political and economic system in this country is stacked against them and getting worse.

During the Vietnam era, because they were directly affected, young people took to the streets to protest the war. America’s young males were subject to a draft, and the prospect of being shipped off to die in a war they didn’t believe in angered them a great deal. And so the war planners wised up and did away with the draft, but look at what has replaced it. America now has perpetual wars for oil, using a “volunteer” military, many of whom have enlisted due to lack of other opportunities. Seemingly unaffected by post-Vietnam wars, students and other young people have been politically inactive since the early 1970s.

But that is coming to an end. Young people are finding few if any jobs awaiting them when they get out of college (that’s assuming they were fortunate enough to afford the high tuition). They graduate with no income coming in, but years of student loan debt to pay back. Those without a college or high school degree are even worse off. All of them see the sad reality, that the American Dream is only for the privileged few. If these demonstrations and protests continue to grow and expand, both here and abroad, the big banks, oil companies, billionaires and politicians will have to pay attention and give some ground. Either that, or face the prospect of violent revolution.

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Happy anniversary to “the 99%” and Occupy wall st.

Happy Belated 2nd Anniversary, Occupy Wall Street

 

 

While I was rebuilding my computer and repairing my Internet connection these past few days, and as fall begins, I found myself reflecting on the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street and the fifth anniversary of the financial collapse induced by Wall Street and the mortgage industry. I was there for the first three days of Occupy DC at Freedom Plaza in October 2011, and again later that month for a day of Occupy Atlanta in Woodruff Park in the heart of downtown, and I have some fond memories of being part of something much bigger than myself or the sum of my experiences.

 

 

There are reasons to celebrate Occupy, as well as the loosely affiliated “We Are The 99%” Movement which is also still ongoing, despite continued economic stagnation and growing debt. The culture of resistance in the US is here, it’s having an effect, and it’s growing slowly but steadily. There are cracks in the pillars of power, they’re starting to get a little bigger, and it’s up to us to pry them the rest of the way open and shine the light on the lies and corruption that have been used to steal our future. I look back over the events of the past two years and feel cautiously optimistic, because I see a movement that is steadily building momentum. As we met at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, on Oct. 6th, 2011 there was a strong sense of suspense in the air. Some said that Americans weren’t feeling enough pain, that we hadn’t reached the tipping point. Similarly, the organizers of Occupy Wall Street acted out of anticipation. They staked out a place in the heart of the monster and held it. At first there were only a few hundred, but by holding that space courageously, more people were inspired to join them. Excitement and wonder were in the air. Could the people really take on Wall Street? Obviously Wall Street thought so because they ordered excessive and constant police protection. They must have seen something brewing because Wall Street firms had donated unprecedented millions to the NYPD over the previous year. It was police aggression towards peaceful protesters that grabbed public attention and sympathy. A few weeks after the start of Occupy Wall Street, an amazing 43 percent of Americans supported Occupy, a figure that remains largely undiminished to this day.

 

 

Two years later, the physical encampments are gone, but the Occupy Movement remains. Occupying public space was a tactic, not an end in itself. It was a way to make the issues visible, a place for people to gather, a model for a new way of doing things based on respect, mutual aid and democracy and a metaphor for claiming what has been taken. The ‘public’ is disappearing, not just public space but also public services, research and resources have been privatized, expropriated for the profits of a few. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, there was an expectation that the government would respond appropriately to stabilize the economy and that we simply had to weather the storm. What we saw instead were massive bailouts of the industry that caused the crash and greatly inadequate steps to secure jobs, housing and health care. This turned some already catastrophic financial crises caused by runaway private speculation into an immense source of private gain for the same very financiers responsible for the catastrophe to begin with. Even worse, it made those catastrophes so much more catastrophic than they really needed to be in the first place.

 

 

As a result of all this mess, we’re not heading toward greater income equality. We’re not building up the middle class or supporting unionization. We’re not eradicating poverty and hunger. We’re not expanding educational opportunity. We’re not rebuilding infrastructure. Nothing we’re doing looks anything like the society we built from the New Deal through the 1960s. We’re not doing any of the things that would lead to a more stable and just economy. In fact, we’re doing just the opposite, which means the billionaire bailout society will become even more firmly entrenched. This means that if left unchecked, the trends towards greater inequality and suffering will not only continue, it will accelerate as well. But the billionaire bailout society went too far. According to a Stanford study, “animosity toward the financial sector reached its highest level in 40 years in 2010” which probably fueled the Occupy and 99% Movements, and anger remains high. A majority of Americans believe that “not enough was done to prosecute the bankers.”

 

 

When drowning in so many crises it is sometimes hard to see above the surface of the water, but the anti-globalization movement and its offspring, the Occupy and “the 99%” Movements, are having an effect. Since 2000, the World Trade Organization has been unable to advance its agenda and 14 free trade agreements have been stopped by public pressure. The Trans-Pacific Partnership and its sister the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership known as TAFTA, are being negotiated in secret as a way to pursue the WTO agenda through the back door. A recent study found that the TPP will reduce wages for the bottom 90 percent of people in the US while significantly increasing the wealth of the top 1 percent. The AFL CIO passed a resolution opposing the TPP and Teamster President James Hoffa wrote, “Workers on both sides of the deal get screwed while corporations rake in record profits. Like low-wage workers in the fast food and retail industries, workers must join together to let Congress know that the TPP is not the right path for the U.S.” A broad coalition of groups have come together to stop the TPP. At the Occupy Wall Street protests recently in New York, the TPP was a top theme. In addition to marches and teach-ins focused on the TPP, the Money Wars street theater group performed its epic battle of Princess Laid-Off and the rebels against the TPP Death Star, Emperor Pipeline and Dark Banker. Actions are taking place this weekend and next week in Washington. If we are successful, this will be a huge victory against transnational corporate power.

 

 

There have been a number of wins recently against top corporations. The Nez Perce tribe and their allies took on General Electric and won a case to stop truckloads of tar sands from crossing their land in Idaho. Exxon was charged for illegally dumping toxic fracking waste in Pennsylvania. And JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon admitted that the bank broke the law. Another important win that is inspiring many in the US took place in Colombia where farmers went on a prolonged strike to win back the right to use their own seeds. The anti-Monsanto and anti-GMO movement is strong here. Thousands of people marched this week in Kauai for a law to protect themselves from pesticides. And, despite an outpouring of money, a vote to label GMO products in Washington State is still holding strong. And stopping the imminent attack on Syria was a win for people everywhere and a loss for the military industrial complex. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin in particular were set to make hundreds of millions from it. We must be vigilant though because the current diplomatic path could be used to justify an attack in the future.

 

 

It is important to recognize these wins and to build from them. It is also important to remember that we never know how close we are to achieving significant change. The occupy movement spawned the “idle no more”, workers’ rights and climate change movements. Our eyes are open and we can’t ignore what we now see; we know that it is the plutocratic system, not individual inadequacy that is causing poverty in America. We know that the $1 trillion given by the Federal Reserve to private banks could have created 20 million desperately-needed jobs. We know that the 400 richest people in the US have more wealth than the GDP of entire countries like Canada and Mexico. And we know the names of those who control the wealth and exploit people and the planet for it. We no longer expect “leaders” to create the change we need. We are all leaders and change depends on our actions and ours alone.

 

 

The culture of resistance necessary to create the kind of world we want to live in is here. Actions are taking place daily in the US and around the world. You won’t hear about most of them in the mass media. This week alone, more than one hundred women, most of them undocumented, were arrested in Washington, DC to protest the ways that immigration policies harm their families. Dairy workers in New York protested their abusive working conditions. Protesters in Vermont, ages 65 to 94, chained themselves to the entrance of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power plant to demand its immediate closure and Marylanders protested outside an ‘arms bazaar.’ The Cascadia Forest Defenders scaled the capitol building in Oregon to drop a huge banner to protest clear-cutting.

 

 

Resistance is not all protesting, it also includes building alternative systems to meet our basic needs. Many who are active in OWS have been hard at work at this since the physical occupation was shut down. This week the Occupy Money Cooperative announced its launch with a fund raising campaign. They will provide low-cost financial services to the millions of Americans who are unbanked and under-banked and who are preyed upon by banks, check cashing services and payday lenders. It will be an opportunity for all to opt-out of big finance. Just as OWS created the infrastructure that was used to organize Occupy Sandy and continues to provide services to those affected by Superstorm Sandy, occupiers in Colorado responded to the needs of people in the Boulder area who were hit by massive flooding.

 

 

Hard work is being done every day to take on entrenched corporate power and create a new world based on principles such as mutual aid, community, equity, solidarity and democracy. It is appropriate to stop and celebrate this work and what has been accomplished so far. Things are changing. Justin Wedes of OWS writes, “Sure, we face an uncertain future, but we embrace the chaos that defines our time. Because, there is no alternative but to challenge the status quo of ever-increasing debt, shrinking job opportunities and disappearing civil rights.” We can’t say what the outcome will be or whether we will live to see the world we hope to create. Can there even be an endpoint? Perhaps the most important piece of social transformation is not a goal but rather is the process of living in a way that is consistent with our values. We live in the culture of resistance which requires constant nurturing to bend the arc of time towards justice.

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We are the 99%, and we’re not going anywhere except for out in the streets

We Are The 99%: The Focus of Our Rage

I have given a lot of thought and engaged in plenty of research regarding the plight of “the 99%” of America’s population, and what should and should not be done to bring the top 1% in line with the rest of us. Having written two books about this topic, I will now attempt to spell out the basics of what we want, and why we 99%-‘ers are undertaking the various “Occupy” protests that are springing up all over the world. We all want basically the same things. We want all the legalized bribery out of politics. This can be accomplished by strict regulation of the lobbyist profession at the very least, but most likely we should consider outlawing the lobbyist profession as it currently operates. If Washington won’t do it then “we the people” will have to do it for them. We can accomplish this by, among other things, “occupying” K Street and the offices of the lobbyists, or by laying siege to their offices through human barricades (nobody comes and nobody goes), or other forms of nonviolent protest. Either take the rampant corruption out of our nation’s politics and fully prosecute those responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown on Wall Street and for creating the housing bubble just before they intentionally popped it, or else we may well be destroyed by Wall Street and their armies of lobbyists, shady co-conspirators and other henchmen, starting with the Federal Reserve and working our way down from there.

From my vantage point, and based on my own experiences, the least common denominator to everything that we are protesting, marching and occupying for can be boiled down to 2 things: the rights of workers and independent contractors, and the right to economic equality including the peaceful restoration of the American middle class to its former economic and social position in American society. Allow me to use the next few pages to explain exactly how we can go about accomplishing these goals in a manner that is legal, peaceful and orderly so we can set a good example for our nation’s kids and grand-kids. One very good way that we could go about accomplishing this is to emulate the peaceful and nonviolent tactics of Rev. Dr. King, Jr. that were utilized during the civil rights marches and protests of the 1950’s and 1960’s. In so doing, history will be on our side and victory against the top 1% will ultimately be ours.

Let me add one more thing before I get into this. You will notice as you read the rest of this essay/op-ed that there are a lot of ideas in here about how to restore America and its middle class, and how to re-balance the distribution of wealth in a peaceful and orderly manner for the mutual betterment of everyone. These ideas I am about to share are simple and practical solutions to some huge problems that America faces. You will also notice that these ideas can be easily implemented using our existing governmental framework and technology. It won’t be necessary to reinvent the wheel in order for America’s people to accomplish their goals for the perfection of our society, starting with a rescue of the poor and middle class.

The first and foremost issue of what we 99%-‘ers want should be the rights of all workers and independent contractors. We want a $12.00 per hour minimum wage combined with the abolition of the federal income tax and an end to the withholding of US income tax from our paychecks. This would give everyone who makes less than $108.000.00 per year a pay raise amounting to an average of 20% immediately, pumping billions of fresh dollars into the US economy that generates many millions in new tax revenue without raising any existing taxes. Full employment should become the new standard of the world, and that standard should be set by the USA.

The second issue I wish to mention is the right to higher education and/or vocational retraining at will and at nominal cost. This is what we should do for all the long-term unemployed, all the homeless who are healthy enough to work, all unemployed veterans, and for all newly released prisoners who are re-entering society. This is how we can end homelessness for good; simply give these people a trade. Every human being on the face of the earth has the unconditional right to a livelihood and to a living wage. Those unable to find work, or who are having difficulty locating suitable work, and those needing to learn new job skills in order to be self-sufficient have the basic human right to professional retraining without cost. Let our colleges and universities remain as they are, but let our public institutions of higher education consider becoming nonprofits so that higher education is unconditionally accessible to everyone. The days of exclusively for-profit educational institutions must come to an end, because I am convinced that it is immoral and mean-spirited to prevent another human being from being able to sustain themselves because some CEO or policy wonk somewhere thinks that retraining America’s workers would be “too expensive”, as if they are not worth the trouble. The best part about this as far as I am concerned is that America can easily afford this, and I will use the war in Iraq and the occupation of Afghanistan as an illustration.

If the US government took all the money spent in one single day on the illegal occupation of Afghanistan and put it into a basic savings account, there would be enough money to put every school kid in America through 4 years of college fully paid for, including tuition, books, dorms, food, transportation and Internet access, plus a new desktop or laptop computer. Let me give you another example. If the US government took all the money spent in one single day on the war in Afghanistan and put it into a savings account, there would be enough money to put every homeless person or family in America – all 2 million of them as of 2012 – into a new 3,000 square foot home fully paid for, fully furnished, with the utilities turned on including Internet access (which the UN declared to be a basic human right as of 2011), and stocked with a years worth of groceries. This is what converting to a peacetime economy can do for America. And all on one day’s military expenditures. Then, send them back to school to teach them new trades so they can keep those houses forever.

There is one more important thing that I have yet to mention. The world is changing and developing so rapidly as scientific and technological advances are made that the job market has become very dynamic. As you know, the pace of this advancement is accelerating, resulting in different types of jobs coming and going rapidly in order to meet an ever-changing demand. Higher education, the US public school system and for-profit vocational schools will most definitely have to adjust their curriculum accordingly. You have probably noticed that some very traditional jobs are disappearing. Just ask anybody who used to be in the travel industry, or direct sales, or a factory worker, or a former computer repairman like I was for 23 years. When I went back and tried to get retraining I was told that my credit rating was not good enough to qualify for a student loan. Many of the courses taught in various vocational schools cost tens of thousands of dollars, and I was broke at the time (come to think about it, I still am, but I digress). So, I found myself shut out from any chance at changing careers. As I began to research this I found that it is actually quite commonplace in today’s dreary job market. Instead of going back to work like I wanted, I was forced into early retirement, and forced to depend on a government that I despise for my sustenance. I would much rather be self-sufficient, but never mind that. My government has already decided to throw me away because I’m allegedly too old (I’m in my mid-50’s as I write this), and therefore too expensive to keep around. Therefore I insist that this practice must come to an end, that higher education should be free for everybody, and that higher education is a basic human right. The days of a college education or vocational retraining being only for those who can afford the tuition (or who “qualify” for predatory and unethical student loans) must come to an end. Do you want to have a better educated country? Fine! Let everybody who wants to get educated – or reeducated – go back to school, and let the government and corporate America foot the bill. The funds are definitely available, as I wrote above.

Of course, I can hear my critics laughing already. Where, they will say, do we get the money to fund re-educating the whole country? We’re running a $14 trillion deficit as it is! You know what? You’re absolutely right, we do have a seemingly insurmountable federal deficit. How do we tackle both problems together? By creating new taxpayers who have found new careers and gotten their incomes restarted, and there is ample precedent for this very thing. At the end of World War 2, there were about 600,000 former GI’s who had just returned from the European and Pacific theaters in the wars against Germany and Japan. Many of them didn’t have any marketable job skills, so Congress passed the GI Bill and put all those soldiers through 4 years of college. It paid off handsomely, paving the way for the record economic expansion of the 1960’s. Well, if they could do that in the 1940’s, why can’t they do it in 2013? The answer is that the system most certainly can, and we of the Occupy and 99% Movements must count reeducation as one of the things that we occupy and protest for. Either employ us or retrain us, and we’re not leaving until we get what we want.

One final thing about the basic right to higher education. According to data I obtained from the US Department of Labor, and some additional information I obtained from “CareerBuilder.com”, the average student graduate from college today will have to change careers anywhere from 5 to 8 times during the course of their lifetime of employment. So, by today’s standards, and assuming career changes involve getting 2-year degrees, somebody going back to school a total of 8 times multiplied by the average cost of obtaining each of those degrees – roughly $30,000.00 times as much as eight – could be as much as a quarter of a million dollars, plus interest. Do our colleges and universities seriously believe that people will be willing to go into that much debt from student loans in their lifetimes, just so they can remain employable? How ridiculous! The cost of tuition for higher education in the early 21st century has reached a level that is so unreasonable that getting a degree has become financially out of reach for all but the top few percent. Excluding the overwhelming majority of all others for purely financial reasons is a social injustice and a human rights violation if there ever was one. We must start demanding our right to higher education as part of our goals. And so we will continue to “occupy” and protest peacefully until we get what we want. We are the 99%!

The third fundamental human right that I want to write about is to be free from poverty and hunger, with an equal chance at prosperity, in a clean and peaceful environment. How do we do all that? We clean up the environment that we already have, and for that you will need lots of people. That brings me to the topic of a huge public works program that this country urgently needs, and this is part of the solution that I see. Therefore, this is indeed another basic human right. This is something that should already have been done at the Presidential level, but unfortunately it is not as of yet. We need massive protests and demonstrations, and a major effort through the social media to get this passed into law. My proposed solution is that all the long-term unemployed people plus all the others I mentioned above be put to work in this new series of public works projects. Some will be doing environmental cleanup, others will assist with bridge and highway repairs, and still others will be repairing sewers and sidewalks. The homeless will be put to work revitalizing abandoned homes left over from the “great foreclosure robbery” (as I called it in my first book). When they are finished with the first home, they can go live in it as they begin repairs on others. We do have the capacity to have full employment at a living wage, and to end homelessness while ending the foreclosure crisis. This is one way to accomplish just that. I encourage anyone having additional ideas to publish them as I have, and the more input the better. And what about all the households where both parents work, or single-parent households? Who is going to watch all those kids? I think we should have on-site daycare available for everybody free of charge. It would be yet another way to create jobs with a starting wage of $12.00 an hour, income tax free.

The fourth fundamental human right, and another way to articulate what we want, is to address the problem of health insurance and its ridiculous cost, pricing 54 million Americans out of the health insurance market and forcing many of us to rely on the local emergency room for medical treatment. It is a fact that every developed country in the world has national health insurance except for the United States. From Europe to Canada to Japan, getting sick is never a problem unless the illness is terminal. Not so in the USA, where health care is on a for-profit basis, and we are the only country in the developed world where this is so. We have the highest cost for health care and the most expensive prescription drugs of any country in the world by far. In other words, good health care in this country is only for those who can afford it. The rest of us are left stranded on the side of the road to health and wellness and without remedy, eventually to die, and well before our time. Speaking as an Internet pastor, I find the idea of denying healthcare to nearly a fourth of the US population (about half of whom are children) just because they can’t pay for it to be immoral, unjustifiable, and utterly barbaric.

So what is the solution to this pressing problem? One thing is for sure, every human being on the face of the earth has the unconditional right to good health care. It’s as basic as access to clean water (another area where mankind has some work to do). I strongly maintain that it should be a crime for any patient to die because they lacked access to treatment due to having no money or health insurance. There is simply no excuse for that to be happening in the richest country in the world, and I for one am ashamed that it is occurring, and I doubt that I am the only one who has this opinion. Also, people with preexisting conditions or who are beset with a catastrophic illness should always have unconditional access to health care. One possible way to do this would be to change the health care industry in the US from for-profit entities to nonprofits.

Anyone seeking treatment for substance abuse or mental illness, or who are in need of any organ transplants, or kidney dialysis, cancer treatment, or any other serious illness requiring constant monitoring or ongoing therapy, must be able to get treatment without financial qualification. This is not a privilege of the well off, it is a basic human right. It is pointless and very expensive to prosecute and incarcerate nonviolent drug users. They don’t need jail, they need treatment.

The question remains then: How do we get caught up with the rest of the developed world when it comes to universal health care? Also, how do we do this within the framework of the existing US health care system(s) in order to conserve on start-up costs and minimize overhead? The plan I propose is simple: Take all currently available medical care in all its forms and put it under one umbrella, so to speak. Merge private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, government health insurance for civilian employees at the state and federal levels, the military and Congress’ (including the President’s) healthcare plans, plus the entire Veterans Administration hospital system into one single-payer system so that no one is left out. Next, streamline the new universal single-payer health care system by eliminating all the duplicate departments, and by making it an online, Internet-based and paperless system utilizing leading edge information technology in order to lower operating costs and cut way down on paperwork. And third, once this new online system gets rolled out and becomes available to everyone, we’ll simply eliminate Medicaid – by putting everybody in the entire country on Medicare, and all persons will have unconditional access to the same level of care, from the President down to the dishwasher at your favorite restaurant. And now, before I move on, let me point out another equally big advantage to having a universal healthcare system such as this.

Having the government take over the administration of healthcare for the entire country is a solution that is long overdue. Don’t worry about what might happen to the existing insurance industry, it isn’t going anywhere and I will explain why in the next paragraph. Allowing a hypothetical universal healthcare system to work in this manner (and so-called Obamacare comes up way short) would take the burden of providing health insurance for its employees off the backs of businesses, substantially enhancing the profit margins of all US companies both great and small. This will give the American economy – together with US businesses – a far greater financial shot in the arm than any government tax cut could ever hope to. In the process, making US medical care into a series of nonprofit entities will bring American health and wellness up to 21st century speed with comparatively nominal operating costs.

So what happens to the existing insurance industry? These very companies will be the ones who will administer this new digitized healthcare system. They will do so by way of a competitive bidding process to ensure that costs are kept under control, effectively farming out the day-to-day operations of the healthcare program. The companies with the lowest bids will get the contracts, which will be brought up for renewal periodically – say, every 5 years. Running the new universal healthcare system this way will ensure that only the best insurance companies will be administering the program, and that the marginal or substandard insurance companies be ultimately either forced to improve or go out of business.

The fourth and final main thing I want to write a couple of paragraphs about is that of economic inequality, or what I call in my first book “enforced inequality”. Class warfare has been declared by the top 1% against the rest of us, meaning the 99% who are losing our jobs, our homes, our cars, our savings and eventually our health as the enforced liquidation of the US middle and working classes continues. What is needed is a peaceful and orderly redistribution of wealth that is done in a non-violent manner. So how do we accomplish this? I have a couple of ideas, but the first step for America would be to enact an all-new tax system, abolishing the federal income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax. This proposed new tax system will be a 2-tiered system, with the national sales tax – or consumption tax – set at 9% (excluding groceries, fuel, utilities, wholesale goods, raw materials, and all government entities). Why 9%, you ask? Well, according to some data that I obtained from the IRS, as well as from the alternative media, the average personal income tax rate in 2011 was roughly 18%, so I am proposing cutting that rate in half. The second tier of this proposed new tax system will be what I call an “excess wealth tax” for the mega-rich, and for any financial transactions that are over a certain limit. For individuals, there is no income tax on the first $1 million, but anything above that gets taxed at a rate of 50%. So, a wealthy household or individual who made $25 million last year would pay no tax on the first $1 million, but they would pay $12 million on the remaining $24 million. For businesses, the proposed consumption tax rate is noticeably more generous, with the first $700 million tax free, and a tax rate of one-third on anything over and above that. So, a company that made $1 billion dollars the previous year would pay no tax on the first $700 million, but they would pay $100 million on the remaining $300 million. On the other hand, a multinational corporation that had $300,000,000.00 in gross proceeds in a given year would also pay a rate of one third, so their tax rate would be $100,100,000.00, or $1.001 billion. As a result, all itemized deductions would come to an end. Ditto for the estate tax and capital gains tax, both of which would be replaced by my proposed Excess Wealth tax. The alternative minimum tax and self-employment tax would also be phased out, replaced by the national sales tax. And the motivation under the current unfair system to stash trillions in profits in overseas bank accounts would become a moot point, generating still more revenue while cutting the tax rate as it stands today.

Under this plan, there is ample incentive for the rich and big business to get enthused about my idea. First, the necessity of providing group health care would go away for US businesses (due to my proposed Medicare-for-all system), followed by the repeal of the income tax. All the money being spent on income taxes and group insurance could be put back into these businesses, making them more competitive than ever before. In fact, I would estimate that such a move by the federal government would go a long way toward making America very competitive in the global economy because the costs associated with operating a business will drop so drastically due to the elimination of these two expenses. And second, the “excess wealth tax” that I just proposed would still provide sufficient funding for costly government institutions like the military and the space program, not to mention the cost of public reeducation and the public works projects I mentioned previously.

Another way to redistribute wealth is by converting unwanted or surplus housing and commercial or office structures into residences, live-work-play developments, green or urban garden space, or new worker-owned businesses such as cooperatives. One of the things that can and should be done with my proposed national public works program is to get rid of all the empty, boarded-up houses that have been abandoned to foreclosure and neglect. Put all the homeless and jobless to work remodeling this otherwise worthless real estate. There are millions of unemployed construction workers who would love to get a chance to do something like this, so why not let them (especially if they have families)? And when they are finished rebuilding them, let them live in them and so revitalize America. Reward them by turning them into homeowners. This is how we can end unemployment and homelessness while turning around the US foreclosure crisis. We can do the same with healthcare and with higher education. Make them both available to everyone unconditionally as a way to enforce economic equality and social parity. This is how we can redistribute American wealth in a peaceful and nonviolent manner, and in so doing set a good example for our kids and grand-kids. The days of making good healthcare and higher education available for only those who can afford it must come to an end. That is unfair, discriminatory, it is a social injustice and therefore a civil rights violation of the worst magnitude. To tell anyone that they can’t stay well, or that they can’t improve themselves because they have insufficient funds with which to pay, should be a crime.

In closing, everybody needs to have an income and a livelihood. It is cruel and mean-spirited to tell anyone that they are not needed nor wanted, or that they can’t be hired because there is allegedly no money to pay them while corporate America sits on trillions of dollars in excess cash. If unemployment is brought to an end using the methods and ideas that I have written about, poverty, hunger and crime will be brought to an end as well – not in a matter of decades, but rather just a couple of years, or the time that it takes them to finish their (free) education. We already have the means to do this, so it would be irresponsible and immoral for us not to act. However, some will say yes, but employed at what? I’ve been looking for a job for years and I haven’t found squat. I have found this to be particularly true among older workers, minorities and people of color.

Brothers and sisters, this is not your fault. Your government, together with some of this country’s most well-known institutions such as the US public school system and the multinational corporations, have let you down. All the jobs that could be outsourced overseas were sent away, never to return. The ones that couldn’t be outsourced were mostly downsized out of existence, ending millions of careers prematurely. It is for these reasons that we are now protesting in the streets and occupying America in New York, Boston, Washington, DC and Atlanta, among others. Because the truth of the matter is that since these jobs aren’t coming back, we as a country should be making new ones, and this should have started decades ago. We have a lot of catching up to do in the area of job creation. The good news is that there are new industries currently being born that can replace all those lost jobs that I wrote about. Green industries like solar power, windmill power generators, the construction of a low-voltage national electrical grid and of fusion reactors, not to mention biotechnology, stem cell research, nanotechnology, robotics, seashore desalination plants for an endless supply of clean water, and a greatly expanded and revitalized space industry are the new growth industries of the 21st century.

Seriously, people! We first landed on the moon in 1969, took our last trip there in 1972, after which our country’s “leadership” mysteriously gave up and quit. This was alleged at the time to be due to insufficient funding, but if the US hadn’t been involved with the war in Vietnam, America could easily have afforded to continue NASA’s Apollo program. The immoral and strategically questionable occupations or wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today are preventing our country from returning to space in much the same way as Vietnam did. It’s all a matter of the proper allocation of resources. So when do we start a grassroots campaign to stop the wars overseas so we can fund our needs at home? How much longer are we going to delay? How about starting today?

Once that serious matter is taken care of, the next step will be for us to decide how to allocate all the money the country will save by ending the wars overseas and bringing our troops home. All right, check this out. We are supposed to be in the space business already! Hello! Instead, we debate among ourselves whether or not women should have abortions, or whether gay marriage is acceptable or not. Speaking as an independent Internet preacher of the more radical kind, if we are serious about wanting to lead good lives and to be productive contributors towards the common good, then we need to be creating jobs and helping to rebuild people’s lives. We need to be helping people regain their sustenance and self-sufficiency. I also am appalled that the mainstream church is so against abortion while being in favor of the death penalty and of waging war. I am equally appalled at the mainstream denominations for their condemnation of gay marriage while the divorce rates for evangelicals are about the same as for the secular world. These are glaring contradictions to their faith, to say the least.

OK, so here’s how we fix our public schools and accelerate the start-up of all these new 21st century businesses, all at the same time. First, government and business should get together and find a way to give large grants to these fledgling companies that are already started up in one form or another. They need start-up capital, and they’re not going to find it at the bank branch down the street. Government can and must step in. Our only alternative is to become a second-rate country, a has-been of military and economic power. The other thing that needs to be done is to start training future astronauts now. Update public school curriculum, and put it on-line. Turn the public schools into an Internet-based system that is paperless and that doesn’t need to buy expensive textbooks every year (save the trees!). Then, start teaching the kids skills that they will need for a technology-based world and a digital workplace, with an emphasis on science and math. Start teaching them to be astronauts when they’re 12 years old, because by the time they graduate from college there will be thousands of astronauts needed, not just a select lucky few like today. I can easily explain this.

At the peak of the US space shuttle program, NASA was launching about three missions per year. Having just witnessed the birth of the privatization of space by the recent docking of the first commercial space flights to the International Space Station, I can tell you that by the end of this decade there will be about three launches per week instead of per year. Ten years after that in 2030 there could easily be more than 3 launches per day, and so on. The time to begin getting ready for our space-faring future is now. Then do the same with the adults. Retrain everybody who can’t find work, or who are in need of a career change, and pick up the tab just like the GI Bill. Performing this service for America’s workforce will literally lift them all up to the next level and make it much more competitive. I have heard people complain over and over again that “we can’t compete” with some dude in China who does the same job we do for $2.00 a day. What America needs is new careers to replace those that have been eliminated. We not only have the capacity to do this already, we are way behind and we have some catching up to do. But we are Americans. We can and will succeed if only we will unite together in this effort. Let’s all get started today.

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Unifying the Forces of Dissent Within the US

United As We Continue Standing Up For Our Rights

I remember watching the news reels on the Internet from the alternative media (I don’t waste time with cable TV) with much admiration last year as the political turmoil unfolded in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and later Libya, with all the people taking to the streets for their rights and their freedom. It stirs my heart to see all those throngs of people united in one purpose, coming up against an overwhelming established authority, and all without any weapons. All of these ongoing revolutions were accomplished without any more than minimal bloodshed, and were largely peaceful. It is very good that so many people were set free by rising up against established authority and taking charge of one’s destiny. This is how real change is brought about and this is how revolution is brought forth by those persons bold enough to take what freedom is rightfully theirs.

Watching those events unfolding on live TV caused me to compare what was happening in Egypt and all those other places in North Africa and the Middle East to what had happened during the American Revolution during the formation of the original colonies. The primary difference between the American Revolution and the Egyptian uprising was the addition of guns into the mix. The modern-day Egyptian protesters didn’t have guns – and didn’t need them, as it turned out. This evokes the memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the ultimate peaceful campaigner for civil rights. His advocacy of non-violent social change and the civil rights legacy that he left behind are irreplaceable. And I also believe that same legacy is based on that of Moses who so famously told yet another Egyptian leader to “let my people go”.

The same thing has since happened in America, as you all know, with the blossoming of the Occupy and 99% Movements. This loosely organized political dissension is gradually congealing into something more, growing into something far more substantial. The economic state of the populations of Egypt and America are similar, with high unemployment, rampant homelessness and crime. The inordinate concentration of wealth, combined with its use as a weapon to pollute and corrupt government and politics, runs rampant in both countries. America is most certainly ripe for revolution, given the state of the middle and working classes in this country, the lack of jobs, the lack of affordable housing, and the rising cost of food and fuel. We are rapidly headed for third world status as a country here in the US when it comes to the standard of living of the blue and white collar classes, otherwise known as “we the people”, combined with the unfair, unethical concentration of wealth that is tantamount to an undeclared economic civil war. There can be no doubt that we are going to have to unite together as a people to stop this great robbery that is happening right up in our faces each and every day so we can take back our country.

 

Actually, the far-left and the far-right have more in common then they would want to admit. Both sides are absolutist in their ideology and uncompromising in their politics. Each side believes that they possess absolute truth and each side refuses to compromise on its beliefs. This is like a poison flowing through the body politic of America and it will cripple our democracy unless each of us acts as an antidote. Otherwise this kind of childish selfishness and narrow-minded stereotyping threatens to tear the fabric of America apart.

 

What is particularly troubling in today’s political environment is the level of anger and even outright hatred that is being displayed by all sides. I have been trying to figure out the source of this anger and hatred for some time now. Some of today’s rabid emotionalism can be traced to old-fashioned racism but I think for many people it goes much deeper than that. It would appear that this anger and hatefulness is really a response to the fear of change. Fear is an emotion we don’t like in ourselves and anger is a way of covering up our fears with an emotion that makes us feel more powerful. We live in a world where society, technology, the economy and demographics are rapidly changing and this change is deeply threatening to many people. They are frightened that the world they have known is disappearing. Such people have not yet discovered the simple key to letting go of their fear, which is to believe and have faith that God is in charge of everything, combined with understanding that if we will just let go and let God, He will cause all things to work out well, as it is written, “All things work to the glory of God for those who love Him”. God is always there for you, as it is written and uttered by Jesus Himself, “Never will I leave you, and never will I forsake you.” So He isn’t going to let anything happen to you, and it would be to the benefit of anyone reading these words to rest assured about this and stop worrying. (For additional perspective on what Jesus said about worrying, read Matthew chapter six.)

 

If we want American democracy to survive, we need to grow up and wise up. We need to stop projecting our fears onto other people, and we need to let go of our childhood fears and insecurities. We need to stop yelling at each other and learn to start listening to each other. We need to replace competition with cooperation, and we need to first learn self-respect as an important step toward acquiring mutual respect. Only when this has been done can a new economic system be born, one based on resourcefulness and cooperation instead of outmoded concepts like profit for the sake of financial gain. We need to accept the reality of change and begin working together to find productive ways of dealing with a world that is constantly changing. Besides, the fact is that America is built upon compromise. Our great experiment in democracy is founded upon the belief that each issue has many sides and that the most workable solution comes from a compromise that blends together many disparate views. Compromise is the glue that holds America together.

Change is inevitable. It’s the way the universe is constructed. The fact that time exists means that change must occur. Rather than fear change, we need to make it work for our benefit. Rather than trying to go back to the past, we need to work together to create a better future. If the American experiment is going to grow and mature, we the people have to grow and mature. We have to put our irrational fears behind us and start working together as mature adults in order to deal successfully with the challenges that change presents to us.

 

It’s time to stop the name-calling and to start having rational discussions about the issues before us. It’s time to turn away from those in the media and on the Internet who feed our fears and fuel our hatred. It’s time to start respecting each other as fellow Americans. Each of us must stand up for a fundamental American truth—united we stand, divided we fall. As Americans we must stand together. We must reject the anger and hatefulness that is dividing us and start using our common sense to work together for the common good

 

 

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