Tag Archives: workers rights

Free book excerpt #25 from Progressive Author and blogger Rev. Paul J. Bern

Coming this fall from Author Rev. Paul J. Bern: the 4th updated edition of his popular 2011 nonfiction work, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto”

 

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The second part of the Manifesto is what I will devote this chapter to. It summarizes the 11 Demands of the People and then organizes them into 7 basic human rights in such a way that they can be legislated into existence. How do we accomplish this? One way would be for a large group of people to go to Washington and demonstrate our disapproval by surrounding Congress outside the main Congressional building where the House of Representatives and the US Senate preside, and continuing to surround it while demanding that the Eight Fundamental Rights Of Mankind be passed into law in the form of a US Constitutional amendment. Nobody leaves until our demands are met. Our demonstrations will be peaceful, and weapons will be prohibited. I have lots of other ideas about how to go about changing the system, but for now let us take a chapter from this book to explain and analyze these basic human rights, how they apply to us middle Americans, and why these basic human rights are what this new Civil Rights movement represents.

[1] Rights of Workers and Independent Contractors

The basic rights of all workers can be broken down into six parts; fair minimum wage, right to unemployment protection, right to free vocational re-training for life, right to choice of career path regardless of economic status, right to organize, right to a flexible work week, and right to family and maternity leave.

The first thing on the list is also the highest priority, that of a fair and realistic minimum wage. As I write this the current minimum wage is only about $7.50 per hour. That’s a gross pay of $300.00 for a 40-hour work week, about $210.00 after all applicable taxes for a single person. Now, let us ask ourselves one basic question: could I live on $840.00 per month? Of course you can’t! But the need to raise the federal minimum wage to $14.00 per hour is only part of the solution because it is only part of the problem. The real problem that I see here is a moral issue that is disguised as an economic issue. The cost of living is so high today in the early 21st century that the true minimum wage should be close to $35,000.00 annually before taxes. That is what it costs a family of four to live week-to-week in 2018 dollars. If the US business community and/or Congress refuse to agree to any such thing, and it’s a sure bet that they will, then let there be protests and worker walkouts all across the country. We could even haggle down from the $14.00 level to, say, $12.00. The important thing will be to keep them talking to us. Sooner or later we will get the large increases we urgently need, even if it means shutting down the whole country for a day or more, or even a week.

But what about the times when the cost of living overwhelms us and a real financial emergency sets in, such as an unexpected car repair or a medical emergency? This brings me to the point that I wish to make, and it is this. In today’s world, if the net take-home pay of any given individual does not meet, or just barely meets, that same individuals daily cost of living, then that is tantamount to economic slavery. Let me say that again because this point simply cannot be overemphasized. If your take-home pay won’t even take you home, you are a slave. Oh, you are free to move around and to come and go as you choose, that is true. But if after you stop at the grocery store, pay the light bill (assuming you are fortunate enough to be able to do that), put gas in your tank (assuming you are lucky enough to still own a car) and set some money aside for next month’s rent or mortgage, then you peek into your wallet and realize that you have $7.00 left for the whole stinkin’ week, that’s when you know you are a slave. What happens to the people whose incomes are at or below minimum wage? They go hungry and are often homeless. And this is happening in the United States of America, supposedly the greatest country in the world, while millions of its people live in abject poverty. How much longer do we wait before taking matters into our own hands? After all, it’s the only way we are going to accomplish our goals.

On this point alone, there are enough issues on the collective dinner plate of the American people to foster open revolt throughout the land. Never mind everything else that I have written about. Think about it for a minute. How does it feel to be an economic slave? Makes you feel kind of angry, doesn’t it? It make us all feel violated because we have all been slaves, often without realizing it. The time to rise up and say, “No more!” has arrived. It’s time for all of us to get out from in front of out TV’s, our computers and our phones, and to get ourselves out into the streets and start protesting. Never mind your game consoles either, there’s no more time for that. And that’s just for this issue alone. Now allow me to mention the rest of these basic rights

The second right under worker’s rights is the right to better unemployment insurance, and to also allow independent contractors to draw unemployment provided certain conditions are met. Any worker who has lost his or her job through no fault of their own will be entitled to up to 52 weeks of unemployment compensation instead of the current maximum of 26 weeks of non-emergency benefits. Once the benefits have been exhausted, if the job seeker is unable to find full time work, they will have two options. The first will be to enlist in free vocational re-education, which will be offered for the lifetime of that worker or until retirement (more on that further below, so please stick with me). The second option will be to enlist as a worker in new public works projects, which will be described later in this chapter. Under this new 21st century plan, we can and will wipe out unemployment and poverty forever.

The third human right listed is the right to free vocational retraining for life. Anybody can go back to school and get retrained at will, up to and including a 2 year degree, and under this new system it will all be free of charge. We will be able to pay for it with the new tax code that I will describe to you later in this chapter. Students in the program who have children will, upon qualification, be given taxpayer-funded day care free of charge so they can get their education without having to worry about their kids. Much is being made right now about the fact that higher education is becoming more financially out of reach for an increasingly large percentage of the US population. Offering free taxpayer-funded reeducation will take down this barrier, and can be thus used as a tool for peaceful and orderly wealth redistribution.

The fourth human right under worker’s rights that I have written about is the choice of career path without economic qualification. This is basically a continuation and clarification of the above right to vocational retraining. It adds a civilian draft which is designed to eliminate unemployment and homelessness. Every able-bodied homeless person, newly released prisoners, and the long-term unemployed will be put to work in a public works program that I will explain in detail later in this chapter.

The next right I mentioned is simply the right for workers to organize. It will include a provision making it illegal for states to outlaw labor unions and it prohibits companies and corporations from preventing unionization. American workers will get worse working conditions, not better, if they do not organize. They also won’t stand a chance of getting pay raises, better benefits and investment opportunities because company management isn’t about to give away any of this voluntarily. The workers are going to have to collectively go to management and make their needs known.

The fifth human right that I mentioned is the right to a fair workweek. All workers who work more than 40 hours in a week, and all salaried managers who work more than 50 hours per week, will be entitled to compensation at time and a half. All companies with more than 100 employees will be required to offer either a four day workweek with a ten hour workday, or a five day workweek with an eight hour workday to all its workers. Workers who are paid biweekly will be paid overtime for all hours worked in a 40-hour week. It will be illegal to require such workers to work 80 hours over Less than two weeks before paying them overtime.

The right to family leave, which will include maternity leave for women, is the final right for all workers and independent contractors. It will be illegal for any company to fire any worker for taking maternity leave or family leave. Any worker who loses their job due to family or maternity leave will be required to be compensated by that employer with a minimum of 30 days pay to a maximum of one year’s salary pending arbitration…..

Softback available direct from the author ($18.95) at https://www.pcmatl.org/books-and-donations (scroll to bottom of page)

Get it on Kindle ($7.95) from this link

For Sony, Kobo, Nook, Kindle & Fire, plus all Apple/Mac devices ($7.95), click here

Watch the video at http://youtu.be/VZguRDJmCqc

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Been ‘feeling the Bern’ lately?

Have you been feeling the Bern (Bernie Sanders, that is)? Tired of feeling “burned” by the government? Get the book that started the Democratic Socialist movement back in 2011! The Middle and Working Class Manifestoby Rev. Paul J. Bern. Before the Sanders presidential campaign, before there was Occupy Wall St., before “the 99%” and Anonymous, before Ferguson, Mo. and Freddy Gray, before Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, before the ‘Arab Spring’, Syria and Palestine, there was this book, the book that helped start it all! Available in paperback on Amazon for $18.95, or get a leftover 1st edition for $9.95 with free shipping at www.pcmatl.org/books-and-donations Or, buy the E-book (350 pages) on Smashwords.com, Goodreads.com, Kindle or Nook for $3.00, or on Pay Hip at https://payhip.com/b/Tpw5 To watch the video before you buy, visit http://youtu.be/VZguRDJmCqc

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Police Violence and Christianity: What’s the Next Step?

Police Brutality: How Should Christians Respond?

By Rev. Paul J. Bern

I cant breathe

An unarmed black man was shot to death by police in an Atlanta suburb this past week. I live a 30-minute drive away from the location of the shooting, and I sometimes buy groceries at a discount grocery chain not far from there, so I’ve driven – or lately ridden on the bus – right through that area. It is one thing to see this stuff about police shootings – or any shooting for that matter – on the evening news, but the frightening spectre of police violence against the very citizens they are sworn to protect nly miles from my apartment brings it all home to roost. A New York Times article from March 10, 2015 had the following headline:

Police Killing of Unarmed Georgia Man Leaves Another Town in Disbelief

By RICHARD FAUSSET, NYT, MARCH 10, 2015

CHAMBLEE, Ga. — Witnesses to the fatal police shooting of an African-American man gave differing accounts Tuesday. But they all ended with a similar question: Why was it necessary to shoot Anthony Hill, a 27-year-old Air Force veteran who was naked and unarmed?

The shooting, which occurred early Monday afternoon, has prompted mourning, confusion and anger in the apartment complex northeast of Atlanta where Mr. Hill lived.

He was a calm, friendly person,” said Julio Hernandez, 54, a groundskeeper at the complex whose 14-year-old son rode skateboards with Mr. Hill. “To me, this was police abuse, because what can a naked person do?”

On his social media accounts, Mr. Hill, an aspiring musician, hinted that he had a mental illness. And most everyone who saw him at the apartments Monday said his behavior was bizarre in the extreme in the moments before the police arrived. Mr. Hill, they said, had been lying on the ground, semi-clothed and then naked, and had been jumping repeatedly off his second-story balcony.

The shooting is the third police killing of an unarmed or apparently unarmed black man in the last five days, following shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Madison, Wis. They have occurred as the nation considers race, policing and lethal force in the wake of the killing of another unarmed black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., in August……”

 

Just days before, another shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer occurred in Madison, Wisconsin, which resulted in a massive protest on March 9th, the day before the Atlanta shooting, as the following Washington Post headline attests:

Protests continue in Madison after shooting; police chief apologizes to community

By Mark Berman, Washington Post, March 9, 2015

Demonstrations continued Monday over the death of an unarmed black man shot and killed by a Madison police officer Friday night, as protests in Wisconsin’s second-largest city stretched into a fourth day and reached the heart of the state’s government.

A large crowd gathered inside the rotunda of the state capitol, about a mile from the apartment where Anthony Robinson, 19, was shot after what authorities described as a struggle with a police officer.

Robinson’s death sparked outrage and drew national attention over the weekend, becoming the latest incident involving a black man dying at the hands of the police. Michael Koval, Madison’s police chief, said he understood how it seemed to fit the narrative that has spurred an ongoing conversation over race and policing, but he pleaded with people for patience while investigations are carried out.

A rally on the campus of the University of Wisconsin took place Monday before students marched to the state capitol, and the demonstrations and actions remained calm and peaceful, with no reported arrests or other issues. Many of the protesters who gathered at the capitol building were high school students who came to attend the rally, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. March organizers had posted on Facebook, asking high school students to walk out of classes Monday morning……”

 

And let’s not forget that two Ferguson, Mo. cops got shot the other night, and they have no idea who did it. That’s probably because whoever did it used a small caliber rifle such as a .22, from some distance away, with a scope on it, possibly even a night-vision scope, and the police know it. Because of all this, cops all over the country have taken a shoot first and ask questions later stance when it comes to how they do their jobs. But what law enforcement fails to realize is that if they weren’t shooting unarmed people, the American people wouldn’t be so upset in the first place. That’s just what’s on the surface. What’s underneath is that between 85-90% of police shootings in America in the last 10 years have been white officers shooting black suspects, the overwhelming majority of whom were unarmed. So the shootings, or most of them, are evidently racially motivated. Is it any wonder that people everywhere are furious with the police, especially people of color? Is it any wonder that no one trusts them anymore (including this author, who prefers to take matters into his own hands)? What should we do about this and still be legal? After all, if we don’t stay legal we’re just giving the cops a reason to shoot at us. Unless, of course, we decide to shoot back. But then we’re talking civil war. Do we really want that? As far as I am concerned, armed revolt should only be considered as a matter of last resort. Before things come down to that, I have some ideas that I would like to see everyone put into practice first. If these don’t work, maybe then we should talk further.

The first thing Christian Americans need to realize is that we’re not living in a democracy, and we haven’t been ever since Nov, 22,1963, when president John Kennedy was assassinated. It isn’t a democracy at all. It’s a tyrannical oligarchy of the worst kind: one that’s disguised as a democracy and hidden behind the smoke and mirrors of political propaganda. Just because governmental decrees are no longer issued by royal fiat but are instead issued by lobbying and propaganda, doesn’t make it any less tyrannical. It is nothing more than inverted totalitarianism. And it is our responsibility, if we would be proactive citizens, to revert this totalitarianism. The 99% must turn the tables on the 1% or we will not survive as a species on this planet. It’s as simple as that. Here are four ways we can turn the tables on tyrannical oligarchy without firing a shot:

1.) Shame the Rich By Mocking Plutocracy

While the world goes through the motions of getting poorer and poorer the moneyed elite are getting richer and richer, to the extent that it is costing people their lives. We must be able to muster the courage to put our foot down and draw a line in the sand. A declaration of emergence is needed. The current demonstrations against police brutality taking place in America’s streets is the new ‘occupy’ movement. One way to put our foot down is to mock the plutocratic entities that have a monopoly on power and to ridicule the cult of personality. Shame is a very powerful psychological motivator. The sooner we make them realize that they have to be morally responsible with their power, the sooner we will be able to bring balance to the world. And the way we make them realize it is through the stultifying effect of shame. Like Confucius said, “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” And have no illusions, countries the world over are badly governed. Through a healthy mockery of their power we inadvertently get power over power and turn the tables on the power dynamic.

2.) Defy the Police State

A primary purpose of the police is to enforce the delusions of those with lots of pieces of green paper. Those without the green papers generally buy into these delusions almost as quickly and completely as those with. These delusions carry with them extreme consequences in the real world. No longer do police act in the capacity of peace officers. Now they are simply hired thugs of a government that no longer has the best interest of the people at heart. Like George Orwell said, “The capitalist society is a police society where the number one goal is the protection of upper class property.” While the governments of the world have been taken over by corporate interests, bankers and special interest groups, our countries have been turned into police states. Black-booted police state beware, your fascist violence is no match for our creative freedom. The so called “herd” is methodically being populated with wolves in sheep clothing, and we will bite if we’re cornered. We can turn the tables on the police state by mocking it like Pussy Riot mocked Putin, and like Anonymous mocks power.

3.) Ridicule the NDAA

As it stands, The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is the most diabolically authoritarian law to ever come down the governmental chute. It’s anti-freedom in the name of security, the most deceptive kind of law. The NDAA is a greater threat to our national liberty than the terrorism from which it claims to protect us from. It impermissibly impinges on guaranteed First Amendment rights and lacks sufficient protections to meet the requirements of due process. Simply put, it is an instrument for the government to restrain the people. The Constitution used to be an instrument for the people to constrain the government, but with legislation like the NDAA and the Patriot Act, the instrument of the constitution is useless and no longer holds a tune. It’s past time that we get out there and petitioned against the NDAA. We must ridicule it. We must scorn it to the nth degree. Blaspheme it in the face of the president if need be. Inform people about how corrupt it really is. People will remain ignorant as long as we allow them to be. Let’s not allow them to be; not only for the sake of their freedom but for our own, as well as for the freedom of our children and our children’s children. People are born to be free. Ridiculing acts like the NDAA, and attempting to abolish them, are ways of safeguarding such freedoms.

4.) Challenge the Mass Surveillance State

Beginning with the adoption of the Patriot Act in 2001 (The government’s backbone-less, scared-stupid response to 9-11) the floodgates opened for covert government surveillance not only for the NSA, FBI, CIA and Homeland Security but for hundreds of municipal and state governments, a green light to infiltrate and spy on millions of American citizens. Now FISA is a dead horse that’s been beaten beyond recognition, because it has been morphed into a vehicle of covert means shielded from effective oversight through countless amendments by the Bush and Obama administrations. And now congress itself is hung-up on the fear-mongering tactics of the War on Terror. It is now up to us, “We the People”, to challenge this surveillance state, unless we inadvertently become what George Orwell warned us against in his novel 1984. Leaking information has become the civil disobedience of our age. The late historian and activist Howard Zinn described the act of civil disobedience as “the deliberate, discriminate violation of law for a vital social purpose… Such acts become not only justifiable but necessary when a fundamental human right is at stake and when legal channels are inadequate for securing that right.” Even Thomas Jefferson realized it, writing, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only correct to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”

Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Jeremy Hammond, and the late Aaron Swartz have all continued the tradition of civil disobedience by revealing the details of global mass surveillance programs. It’s time for us to change the tune. It’s time to interrupt their corrupt dance. It’s time to challenge the powers that be. Nothing short of the survival of the human species is at stake. If we are going to proclaim ourselves Christians, then we have a responsibility to oppose that which is corrupt, unjust, unfair and which poses a threat. Evil must at all times be resisted with good. Not through some imaginary fist-fight between good and evil, all that is just Hollywood imagery. I’m talking about resisting evil in the Spiritual realm through prayer, faith, love and good works whenever possible. Passive resistance works as well in the Spiritual world as it does in the physical, so use it whenever possible. Let the peace of Christ, which is beyond all human understanding, be with you all. Stop the shooting, everybody – police and civilians alike, you’re only making matters worse! We can either live in peace together or die fighting each other. I’d say the first choice is a lot more palatable to me, not to mention a lot smarter.

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Anonymous Million Mask March worldwide – Nov 5 2014

September 7, 2014. Everywhere. ONN The secretive underground hacker group Anonymous has come a long way since its beginning in 2003 in an online chat room. What started as a half dozen kids scattered around the world, all with the default online username ‘anonymous’ and unknown even to each other, has become the largest political movement on Earth. On November 5, 2014 the global army will step out of the internet and onto the streets in more than 500 cities around the world.

via Anonymous Million Mask March worldwide – Nov 5 2014.

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Should justice and the rights of workers be a Christian issue?

Progressive Christianity, Worker’s Rights and Social Justice

(excerpt from, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto”, by Rev. Paul J. Bern)

The lack of employment and economic opportunities, the lack of access to health care and higher education, plus extreme economic inequality due to a very high concentration of American wealth being in the hands of far too few people has turned the majority of the American populace into a powder-keg. Like the Middle East and parts of Europe, America too has become a ticking time bomb of inequality and lack of opportunity. The rights of US workers have been trampled underfoot by the rich multinational corporations and the top 1% elite who are outsourcing all our jobs overseas as they leave us high and dry in minimum wage jobs with no future. The least common denominator of middle class loss of income due to mass layoffs, the loss of housing due to foreclosure and eviction and the excess of economic inequality due to a disproportional concentration of wealth, is that all three of these comprise the human rights of workers throughout the world, beginning here in America since our country is supposed to be the standard-bearer of the world for freedom and opportunity. If the American worker does not get what he or she is legally and rightfully entitled to, there will be strikes, protests, sit-ins, “occupying” and other peaceful forms of civil disobedience until we get what we want, up to and including the complete shutdown of the entire US economy for at least one day. And we will do all of this without firing a single shot, just as the protesters and public demonstrations overseas did before us, and just as the Rev. MLK, Jr. did during the civil rights movement. And then we do it again – and again.

There are also a growing number of employed people who, despite having a job, are still living in poverty. There are at least 15 million US workers who now fall into this rapidly growing category. The median US income of $33,000.00 a year is not going to get you far in today’s economy, and half of the country is making less than that. The reason we struggle with these things is because the Economic Elite have robbed us all through the systematic confiscation of middle class wealth, security and prosperity. This has caused tremendous suffering among workers throughout the world, it is no less than a criminal act, and it is the result of the largest single transfer of wealth in all of human history from the world’s middle class to the rich. And so I came up with what I call in my book “The 8 Fundamental Rights of Mankind”. But for now I will only focus on the first one because there is so much to be said on just the first one.

The first and foremost right is that of all workers and independent contractors. The basic rights of all workers can be broken down into six parts; the right to a livelihood and a living wage, rights of unemployed persons, right to free vocational re-training for life, right to organize, right to a flexible work week and right to health-related, family and maternity leave. The first thing on the list of worker’s rights is also the highest priority, that of a fair and realistic minimum wage, and more fundamentally, the basic human right to a livelihood. Unemployment as we have previously known it must now come to an end forever. This does not mean unemployment will be eliminated, but periods of unemployment can and should be converted to times of retraining to acquire new skills or even completely change careers. What gives any wealthy corporate 1%’er CEO the right to tell any given man or woman, “Sorry, you are not needed around here anymore. Your skills, experience, and your work ethic no longer matter here. Our company’s bottom line and the interests of our shareholders are far more important than that of our workers.” Who do these jerks think they are? They outsourced many of our jobs overseas so that corporate America could enrich themselves at the expense of their former employees, leaving middle and working class Americans with no way to earn a respectable living and be self-sufficient. The jobs that could not be outsourced were downsized out of existence. Then this same bunch of corporate “leaders” turned around and, with the cooperation of American academia, raised costs for higher education so high that many who wished to go back to school and train for a new career were unable to afford the expenses. In the end, numerous persons who urgently wish to improve themselves through education or vocational retraining have been and are continuing to be held back from doing so, and that is a social injustice and a civil rights violation worthy of the loudest protests in numerous public places throughout our country.

There is entirely too much imbalance and inequity in the distribution of wealth in the US today. Over 90% of all available liquid cash and assets are in the hands of less than 10% of the US population. And so every day it’s steak for them and beans for the rest of us. How much longer are we, the middle and working classes, going to allow this to go on? You know, it looks to me like our country is in dire need of some peaceful and orderly wealth redistribution, and I don’t mean collectivized economies such as Socialism or Communism either. One very good way to accomplish this would be to send everybody back to school who wants to go free of charge. Who would pick up the tab for the tuition for all those millions of people? Would it be the government? Absolutely not! The bill should instead be presented to corporate America, since it is corporate America who outsourced or downsized all of our jobs in the first place. Congress did just that at the end of World War 2 when they passed the G.I. Bill. If it could be done in the 1940’s, then it can be done today. Simply make the GI Bill available for everybody! Besides, if we can’t work for these companies anymore then they owe it to us to train us to work somewhere else instead of discarding us like so much trash. Any solution amounting to anything less is a social injustice and a civil rights issue worthy of a national chorus of protests, demonstrations and “occupations”.

This brings me to the point that I wish to make. In today’s world, if the net take-home pay of any given individual does not meet, or just barely meets, that same individuals daily cost of living, then that is tantamount to economic slavery. Let me say that again because this point simply cannot be overemphasized. If your take-home pay won’t even take you home, you are a slave. Oh, you are free to move around and to come and go as you choose and take care of business, that is true. But if after you go to the grocery store, pay the light bill (assuming you are fortunate enough to be able to do that), put gas in your tank (assuming you are lucky enough to still own a car) and set some money aside for next month’s rent or mortgage (if you’re not already on the street or living with relatives) – and then after all that you peek into your wallet and realize that you have $7.00 left to live on for the whole stinkin’ week, that’s when you know you are a slave. What happens to the people whose incomes are at or below minimum wage? They go hungry and are often homeless. Many of these newly homeless, formerly middle class people also have kids who have fallen into poverty along with their parents. And this is happening in the United States of America, supposedly the richest country in the world. This is a moral outrage, a social injustice, and it is economic discrimination of the worst kind. Since it is an issue of discrimination, by extension it also becomes a 21st century civil rights issue generating a demand for fundamental change in the way our economy works and the way our government works.

This too, then, is cause for protests, demonstrations, boycotts, occupations, general strikes and other forms of peaceful civil disobedience. On this point alone, there are enough issues on the collective dinner plate of the American people to foster open revolt throughout the land. Never mind everything else that I have written about. Think about it for a minute. How does it feel to be a slave? Makes you feel kind of angry, doesn’t it? Maybe even violated on a certain level, like we’ve been robbed. The time to rise up and say, “No more!” has arrived. It’s time for all of us to get out from in front of out TV’s and our computers and to get our backsides out in the street and start protesting. And that’s just for this issue alone. Now allow me to go over the rest of these rights.

The second basic issue under worker’s rights is the right to better and more comprehensive unemployment insurance, and to also allow some independent contractors to draw unemployment provided certain conditions are met (subject to future legislation or referendum). Any worker who has lost his or her job through no fault of their own will be entitled to up to 50 weeks of unemployment compensation instead of the current maximum of 26 weeks due to a continued over saturation in the job markets of most developed countries, starting with the US. Besides their job search, at any time during the worker’s period of unemployment he or she will have two other options available to them to assist in the development of their careers. The first will be the ability to sign up for a public works project to obtain immediate employment. (The worker’s second option will be reeducation, and I will touch on that one next so please bear with me). Workers will be required to choose one of the above to qualify for benefits. We have been needing a massive public works project to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure for decades. I would conservatively estimate that anywhere from 1-3 million people could be employed this way as contract laborers, salaried employees or subcontractors, depending on the need. The fact of the matter is that we need jobs, we need lots of them, and we need them right now! Since our government has failed to act in this regard in spite of an obvious critical need, we will have to do this ourselves. Let’s get this on the ballot for the next general election, and let’s also strike and protest for action on this matter until then. We might as well, because things are going to continue to get worse until we do.

The third human right listed is the right to free vocational retraining for life. Anybody can go back to school and get retrained at will, up to and including a 2 year degree (with a 4-year available for some additional cost). Large, wealthy corporations with robust cash flows, as well as millionaires and the super-rich, will supply the necessary funding through what I call in my book “the excess wealth tax” (you can buy the book on this site or on Amazon) to find out the details which include repealing the federal income tax). Since corporate America made the decision to send their factories and all the jobs those factories provided overseas to lower their labor costs, and since this action has caused the obliteration of millions of American careers, it will be corporate America who will shoulder the expense of retraining these people whose careers evaporated through no fault of their own. If they take your job away, or if they export or downsize your career out of existence like I experienced myself, then it is those same corporate henchmen who must pay for your reeducation. Higher education is a basic, fundamental human right. The day has come when higher education is no longer only for those who can “afford” the tuition. As of today, higher education, and the fundamental right to improve and enrich ourselves, is a fundamental human right that must be had by all without qualification.

Before I go on, let me add one more tasty ingredient into this mix. Students enrolled in reeducation or public works project workers who have children, will be given taxpayer-funded day care free of charge so they can get their education or go to work without having to worry about watching their kids. Now I know what at least some of you are thinking right now – “who’s gonna pay for that?” Let me put all this into perspective for you. If your US government took all the money that was spent in a single day on the twin occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan plus the clandestine and illegal wars and “black ops” in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere and set it aside in an enormous savings account, there would be enough money to send every American school age kid from the first grade through high school and upwards to any college, public or private, or any state university or vocational or technical school to earn their degree of choice with the tuition fully paid for, plus the cost of all their books and supplies, their meals, Internet access, new computers, and with access to public transportation covered as well. So, for those who say we can’t afford to send everyone to college with their expenses fully paid, or that the money to accomplish this just isn’t there, either doesn’t know what they are talking about, or they are elitists and bigots who can’t stand to see middle and working class and minority students getting ahead. Access to higher education, and looking after the children of those who are retraining, is an American civil right that should be equally available to all without qualification, not just to those who can afford it. Would you like to see test scores improve in our nation’s schools? Tell all those kids that they are all going to college, and watch their grades improve noticeably. Give them an incentive to do better and our kids will rise to the challenge every time.

The fourth worker’s right I’m writing about is simply the right to organize anytime, anywhere. Any American worker who wants to join a union must be allowed to do so, and any group of workers who decide to organize themselves for the purposes of collective bargaining and solidarity must be allowed to do so without interference or fear of retribution. This should include a provision making it illegal for companies to squash labor unions and from preventing unionization. If our country’s leadership is unwilling or unable to pass this and other basic rights of all workers that I have mentioned, then we as united American citizens must unite to get this issue on the next ballot by way of popular referendum, strikes and demonstrations, and other acts of civil disobedience. It’s already an established fact that American workers will get worse working conditions and pay, not better, if they do not organize. In the meantime, the short-term solution is to take this matter and all others like it into the streets as the Occupy and 99% Movements have done. You know, if you haven’t joined us yet you really should, it’s for your own good and for the future of your country.

The fifth human right is the right to a fair and reasonable workweek. All workers who work more than 40 hours in a week, and all salaried employees who work more than 50 hours per week, will be entitled to compensation at time and a half. Unlike certain companies today, it must become illegal for any given company to skirt around America’s labor laws. All companies with more than 1000 employees will be required to offer either a four day workweek with a ten hour workday, or a five day workweek with an eight hour workday to all its workers. This will save a lot of energy, lessen traffic volume at rush hour, and provide workers with more leisure time.

The right to family and sick leave, which must include maternity leave for women, is the final right I have listed for all workers and independent contractors. Every other country in the developed world from Europe to Canada to Japan has paid family and sick leave for its workers – all except for the US. It’s way past time for Congress and the President to bring our country up to speed with the rest of the world in this regard. Furthermore, medical, family and maternity leave should be allowed for up to 3 months per calendar year, and it must be made illegal to fire someone from his or her job because that employee needed to take family leave. The right of all individuals to have medical, family or maternity leave must be had by all, without interference or fear of retribution, for the strengthening of our families and the nurturing of our children.

The fundamental rights of workers must be honored and acknowledged by rule of law, and by a culture change that puts people before profits. The days of funneling any given company’s profits to its shareholders instead of its employees must come to an end forever as corporations gradually become replaced with employee-owned cooperatives, a proliferation of nonprofits, or sole proprietorship web-based “micro enterprises”. The workers who are the ones who keep things running for the rest of us, it is they who are the new business model for the 21st century. In the best of cases, it will be the workers, and not stockholders, who will be the new company owners and investors as the old ways of greed-based capitalism continue to die of old age. This is the new reality we must all embrace if we are to thrive in the 21st century.

justice_4_poor

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What does the Bible say about illegal imigration?

The Progressive Christian Approach to Immigration Reform

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

My message for today revolves around what the media and our politicians are saying regarding the topic of immigration reform, as opposed to what the Bible says. We have all heard both sides of this issue from Republicans and Democrats, from conservative to progressive to liberal, as well as independent voters like myself. First let me say that I was formerly on the conservative side of this issue due to the fact that had once lost a good job in the computer/IT profession due to my being replaced by workers who had just arrived in America. So, I was understandably bitter because I had lost my job to a worker with a green card despite the fact that I was more qualified. Actually it wasn’t just myself either. The company I was working for as an independent contractor had laid off everyone in the branch office where I worked and replaced us all with a batch of workers from the Philippines with green cards. At the time I felt like my career had been stolen right out from under me, and all attempts to replace this job of mine had yielded only temporary jobs that lasted from several months duration to as little as one day.

Then one day in the late spring of 2008, I took yet another temporary job out in west Texas, and so I put most of my things in storage with the intention of coming back to Atlanta where I live after my contract job expired. I had never been to Texas before, and I found a completely different culture than what I was accustomed to back east. There were three things I noticed immediately soon after my arrival. The first was the oppressive heat and humidity, the second was that people ate burritos in place of burgers, and the third was that approximately one third of the population was Hispanic (or Latino, take your pick). The first thing I remember thinking when I saw that one third of the population spoke only Spanish was that this must be ground zero for so-called illegal immigration, or so I thought at the time. But I spent four months out there in Texas, and as my days turned into weeks and then to months I began to notice little things that seemed insignificant in and of themselves. For example, I saw Latino men – and as few women as well – hanging around temp agencies, construction sites, and even at a U-haul truck rental company in the hopes of getting a job at least for that day. I remember being struck by the parallels between what those Latino folks were having to endure as they searched for work and a piece of the so-called American dream compared to my own job search experiences. Some of these workers lived at homeless shelters, others in campers or vans, and the more prosperous ones lived in rented mobile homes or apartments. I saw the same thing day after day, with hundreds of workers gathered around in groups of as few as eight or ten, and as many as several dozen folks. And so I found myself beginning to question my own intense dislike of these immigrant workers.

Before I go any further with this message, I think I should point out that my basis for resenting many of these immigrant workers was economic rather than racial, and more cultural than social. Nevertheless, my beliefs and opinions were heavily slanted towards an American rather than a world view, and so I found myself beginning to question my motives for feeling the way I did. So I did some research on-line and at the local library regarding this issue, and here is what I found out. The average worker in Mexico earns the equivalent of about $50.00 per month USD, and this is so because of reasons that I was previously only generally aware of – namely, the differences in currency valuation between the two countries, and the fact that Mexico is by and large a third world country that happens to border the United States. When these same workers come to the US they make minimum wage, more or less, which is currently still stuck at only $7.25 per hour. Since a sizable chunk of these workers make less than minimum wage while being paid in cash under the table, I’m going to use a rounded out number of $7.00 hourly. A 40-hour work week at seven dollars an hour yields gross pretax earnings of $280.00 per week before taxes and Social Security. But since many of these workers don’t work full time their take home pay is even less. At any rate, this works out to gross earnings of $1,120.00 per month. If each worker pays a regular tax rate as we Americans do, and many don’t because their employers are cheating the tax man by paying in cash, they wind up with an average net take-home pay of approximately $740.00 per month.

I challenge anybody out there to try and live even for only a month on substandard pay such as this! The bottom line is that this is impossible while still paying our bills on time. In order to better understand this, instead of Mexico and the US being the two countries involved, let’s use the US and Canada instead. If any given American working professional were offered a job in Canada, what would that be in relation to the US and Mexico? For any Mexican/Latino who emigrates to America, the jump from fifty bucks a month to 740 dollars equals a pay increase that is 11.4 times the going rate in Mexico or, for that matter, any central American country. Now, let’s contrast that to an American jumping ship and leaving the US to go and work and live in Canada. With an average net earnings of $35,000.00 annually (before taxes) for American workers, if any of us were to be offered a job in Canada – or for that matter any other developed or emerging country worldwide – at 11.4 times the going rate here in the US, that would amount to an increase in take-home pay to $399,000.00 annually before taxes. OK, so let’s ask ourselves a simple question: Would you or I be interested in a pay increase of 11.4 times the amount we have been earning previously? The obvious answer is that of course we would. So, now you know why the Latino folks are migrating – legally or not – to the US in search of work. It’s not because they are foreign invaders on an economic and social offensive to overrun America. It’s because they are economic refugees from the third world who are searching for a better life for themselves and their families! So, instead of resenting or even hating this influx of foreign workers, the Christian thing to do would be to reach out to the Hispanic communities in all fifty states and minister to them. I don’t mean giving them a handout, either. Like so many long-term unemployed here in America, they don’t want a handout, they simply want to go to work. But I felt convicted in the Holy Spirit for harboring such negative and bitter thoughts at all.

Showing compassion to foreigners and strangers is central to biblical teaching and morality, and there are quite a few Christians who have started joining the fight to pass immigration reform, including myself. Congress needs to pass this into law because it is the morally right thing to do. Those whose position on reform is based on political fear, unacknowledged racial prejudice or worries about losing primaries to far-right ideologues are too often the same people who trumpet their religious convictions as guiding their decisions in public life in violation of the First Amendment’s separation of church and state. Politicians who are professing Christians need to consider what their faith has to say about immigration. If they oppose reform and refuse to offer compassion to our immigrant brothers and sisters, they should justify their positions on moral grounds (if they can). We join with other faith communities in asking for a moral and religious conversation about immigration reform – not just a political one. God’s passionate, abiding concern for immigrants and foreigners, strangers and travelers – and for our neighbors – is obvious to anyone reading through Scripture.

It is the biblical call to “welcome the stranger” and Jesus’ concern for “the least of these” that inspires and motivates us. “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself … ” (Leviticus 19:33-34). The biblical word “ger” for the foreigners in our midst occurs an astounding 92 times in the Hebrew scriptures, with the consistent instruction to protect them. In the New Testament, the stranger, and all who are vulnerable, are at the very heart of the Gospel (Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan is just one example of many). In the book of Matthew, Jesus offers a vision in which caring for them is the defining mark of God’s kingdom: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:35-36).

That evangelical as well as mainstream Christians would finally act to reform the immigration system should surprise no one who has a conscience, and not just for theological reasons. Undocumented immigrants have joined our congregations; we understand the problem firsthand. They are our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. And we know that by reforming our immigration laws, we can create a system that also reflects the best values of our nation and the highest ideals of our faith. We act because, as the book of James reminds us, “faith without works is dead.”

For me, I think the biggest change hasn’t been in the pulpit, it’s been in the pews and out in the streets. It’s one thing when 11 million people are a statistic. The other thing is when one of those 11 million is your friend, a human being who you now know as a father, as a husband, as a mother, as a worker, as a worshiper. Our faith has always been about compassion and it compels us to do something. If we take the principle of compassion out of the Bible, it wouldn’t be the Bible any more. Compassion is indeed all over the Bible. I pray it will also be found in the House of Representatives and the Senate. It’s time for Christians in Congress to stand up in support of immigration reform, or to explain why they won’t — as Christians. If they follow their faith, we will see the miracle we need. And let’s remember that there is no such thing as an illegal human being.

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Is America on the verge of an apocalypse?

Apocalypse Soon?

By Rev. Paul J. Bern

As I pause to take a look around me, I observe that my country is under attack both from without and within. It remains to be seen whether the outcome of these multiple attacks will amount to anything more than a temporary convenience, but I see ominous warning signs all around me. Externally, we have and will continue to come under attack here at home due to America’s aggressive deployments of numerous US troops overseas while simultaneously being burdened with a crushing war debt that can never be repaid. Add to this the fact that the deadly drone strikes all over the Middle East and Africa are killing scores of innocent civilians, and America has enraged far more people than many of us realize by doing so. If America’s Arab allies in the petroleum-producing countries were to suddenly turn on us, the US would find itself in a challenging situation, to say the least. Yet this glaring fact has not ceased to blind the eyes of those in power who see only the oil when they look at the Middle East. It will only be when the US converts from gas and diesel to much clear-burning natural gas for their cars and trucks, something America has in abundance, that America will be able to finally break her addiction to Mideast oil.

Internally, our country is under attack from rampant corruption that overshadows most other countries in size and scope, and it is a systemic corruption that goes all the way to the top. But there is something else going on here, something underneath the surface, that is far greater than either of these other two threats I have mentioned. I am writing about what now-deceased TBN host Grant Jeffery once called a “shadow government”. This shadow government is a cabal of unelected, shadowy private interests that control the multinational corporations, the World Bank, the IMF and the US military-industrial complex, among other things. This “shadow government” is made up of members of the global top 1% income bracket, and their activities are directed against the rest of us in the form of an enforced inequality, as you know all too well by now. I have compiled the following list that proves “we the people” are under just such an attack.

1) The inequality of wealth in the United States and abroad has soared to an unprecedented level. The U.S. already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the 2008 financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the middle class and poor much harder than the top 1 percent, the gap between the top 1 percent and the remaining 99 percent of the U.S. population is greater than ever.

2) The three big banks that took taxpayer money and benefited the most from the government bailout have just set a new global economic record by issuing $30 billion in annual bonuses this year, “up 60 percent from last year.”

3) The profits of the economic elite are now underwritten by taxpayers with $23.7 trillion worth of national wealth. As the looting is occurring at the top, the U.S. middle class is just beginning to collapse.

4) Workers between the ages of 55 to 60, who have worked for 20 to 29 years, have lost an average of 25 percent off their 401k. During the same time period, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans went up by $30 billion, bringing their total combined wealth to $1.57 trillion.

5) Home foreclosure filings hit a record high in the third quarter of 2010 and continues into 2014. Over 3.4 million homes entered foreclosure by the end of 2010, and this year will top 4 million.

6) 25 million people are unemployed or underemployed. That’s nearly 1 in 6 Americans.

7) There have been 123 U.S. bank failures thus far this year (as of 2012 – PB).

8) 10 U.S. states are on the verge of bankruptcy, with several ready to declare a financial state of emergency, such as California, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

9) “U.S. public debt has topped $14 trillion for the first time in history”… This prediction, first written in the spring of 2011 when the final draft of my first book was completed, has since topped $16 trillion.

10) The U.S. poverty rate is the highest in the industrialized world. Predictably, homelessness is rising at an increased rate as well. The U.S. government does not tally the numbers but interested organizations say that more than 3 million people were homeless at some point over the past year. The fastest growing segment of the homeless population is families with children.

11) 50 percent of U.S. children will need to use food stamps to eat at some point in their childhood. In the African-American community, it is a shocking 90%. (As to why the black community isn’t protesting in the streets over this, I have no idea. Dear brothers and sisters, the time has come for all of us to stand up and fight for our kids!) This is a national disgrace, a social injustice and a cause for outrage and protest if ever there was one. We are all in awful shape when we can’t even feed our own children.

12) In 2010, according to the Census Bureau, the number of U.S. citizens without health care grew to a record 50 million. Furthermore, this statistic is on track to exceed 56 million by the end of this year (prior to Obamacare – PB).

13) Lack of health insurance caused 45,000 preventable U.S. citizen deaths in 2010. The American Journal of Medicine recently released a study that stated, “Nearly two out of three bankruptcies stem from medical bills, and even people with health insurance face financial disaster if they experience a serious illness.”

14) A Johns Hopkins Children’s Center study reported that 17,000 US children have died due to lack of health care. You can also add in a recent report that revealed that 2,266 U.S. veterans have died in 2008 due to lack of access to health care.

15) The gun and ammunition manufacturing industry in the United States has over 200 companies producing billions of dollars in annual revenues. This huge manufacturing base cannot fulfill demand quickly enough. The demand for guns and ammunition has hit a record high and the gun industry cannot produce enough bullets to keep up with orders. Americans are arming themselves to the teeth! In the past year, 100 new armed militia groups have been formed across the US as militia members have doubled in numbers. Federal authorities are gravely concerned about the “up-tick in militia activities.” One federal authority recently said, “All it’s lacking is a spark.”

16) Between January 1996 and September 2006, there were 253 confirmed incursions into the United States by Mexican government personnel. There is documentation of shots fired on both sides of the border, unmarked helicopters invading U.S. airspace, drug smuggling and actual confrontations between U.S. Border Patrol agents and armed members of the Mexican military. All it will take is one violent cross-border incident to start a US-Mexican war. What is such a shame about all this is that if the US government would just call off the stupid, idiotic and pointless “war on drugs”, all the cartel-related violence that is now occurring on and below our southern border would disappear almost overnight. As it stands right now, American law enforcement and the CIA have Mexican blood on their hands.

Exacerbating all 16 of these facts – all of whom were sourced directly off the Web – is the fact that America can’t even print its own money. This critical national responsibility has been undertaken – hijacked would be more life it – by none other than the Federal Reserve. As many of you know, the Fed isn’t even a part of the US government. It’s a privately held corporation that operates in the utmost secrecy. Makes you wonder why they think they need to do that, now doesn’t it? As to how badly the Federal Reserve System (which many call the World’s largest counterfeiter) has destroyed the American economy is evidenced in their destruction of the US Dollar which has lost over a quarter of its value in the past 8 years, and what a single Dollar could buy in 1913, when this secret banking cabal began to strangle these people, would cost $21.67 today, and which comes out to a shocking inflation rate of 2067%! And, as hard as it is to believe it is nevertheless true that Americans pay more on overdraft fees to their banker masters than they spend on fresh vegetables! Russian Finance Ministry calculations dating back to 2012 show that should the American people stop paying their money to banks (mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, etc.) and all declare bankruptcy, the entire debt load carried by the US Government would be paid or written off in less than 2 years and the United States would have over $85 trillion available to them over the next 10 years to pay for the complete rebuilding of their Nation and society. What we have instead is America being driven right into the ground by an evil and oftentimes crazy group of people who answer only to the top 1%, to the detriment of the remaining 99%. The worst part is that it is in their best interest to run the country into the ground because they will make a lot of money from the collapse of the USA, and that is exactly what they are trying to do.

As Benjamin Franklin famously said over 200 years ago, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.” In the meantime, it is now official. A majority of Americans are willing to give up liberty in order to be safer from so-called “terrorism”. Never mind that the chief perpetrator of this “terrorism” is the US federal government and the military-industrial-intelligence complex it controls. A stunning new McClatchy-Ipsos poll has found that 51 percent of Americans agree with this statement: “It is necessary to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safe from terrorism.” Only 36 percent of those polled agreed with this statement: “Some of the government’s proposals will go too far in restricting the publics civil liberties.” Have they really been brainwashed into willingly giving up their essential liberties just so they can feel a little safer? Maybe some have, but I sure haven’t. So almost 4 out of 5 Americans are perfectly fine with letting airport security officials gawk at their naked bodies just so they can feel a bit safer from terrorists? How crazy is that? The truth is that when Americans allow themselves to become so wimpy and so fearful that they are willing to throw many of their most important freedoms out the window, those “terrorists” have already won.

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America must either fight back against the 1% elite or face oblivion

Apocalypse Soon?

By Rev. Paul J. BernImage

 

 

As I pause to take a look around me, I observe that my country is under attack both from without and within. It remains to be seen whether the outcome of these multiple attacks will amount to anything more than a temporary convenience, but I see ominous warning signs all around me. Externally, we have and will continue to come under attack here at home due to America’s aggressive deployments of numerous US troops overseas while simultaneously being burdened with a crushing war debt that can never be repaid. Add to this the fact that the deadly drone strikes all over the Middle East and Africa are killing scores of innocent civilians, and America has enraged far more people than many of us realize by doing so. If America’s Arab allies in the petroleum-producing countries were to suddenly turn on us, the US would find itself in a challenging situation, to say the least. Yet this glaring fact has not ceased to blind the eyes of those in power who see only the oil when they look at the Middle East. It will only be when the US converts from gas and diesel to much clear-burning natural gas for their cars and trucks, something America has in abundance, that America will be able to finally break her addiction to Mideast oil.

 

 

Internally, our country is under attack from rampant corruption that overshadows most other countries in size and scope, and it is a systemic corruption that goes all the way to the top. But there is something else going on here, something underneath the surface, that is far greater than either of these other two threats I have mentioned. I am writing about what now-deceased TBN host Grant Jeffery once called a “shadow government”. This shadow government is a cabal of unelected, shadowy private interests that control the multinational corporations, the World Bank, the IMF and the US military-industrial complex, among other things. This “shadow government” is made up of members of the global top 1% income bracket, and their activities are directed against the rest of us in the form of an enforced inequality, as you know all too well by now. I have compiled the following list that proves “we the people” are under just such an attack.

 

1) The inequality of wealth in the United States and abroad has soared to an unprecedented level. The U.S. already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the 2008 financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the middle class and poor much harder than the top 1 percent, the gap between the top 1 percent and the remaining 99 percent of the U.S. population is greater than ever.

2) The three big banks that took taxpayer money and benefited the most from the government bailout have just set a new global economic record by issuing $30 billion in annual bonuses this year, “up 60 percent from last year.”

3) The profits of the economic elite are now underwritten by taxpayers with $23.7 trillion worth of national wealth. As the looting is occurring at the top, the U.S. middle class is just beginning to collapse.

4) Workers between the ages of 55 to 60, who have worked for 20 to 29 years, have lost an average of 25 percent off their 401k. During the same time period, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans went up by $30 billion, bringing their total combined wealth to $1.57 trillion.

5) Home foreclosure filings hit a record high in the third quarter of 2010 and continues into 2014. Over 3.4 million homes entered foreclosure by the end of 2010, and this year will top 4 million.

6) 25 million people are unemployed or underemployed. That’s nearly 1 in 6 Americans.

7) There have been 123 U.S. bank failures thus far this year (as of 2012 – PB).

8) 10 U.S. states are on the verge of bankruptcy, with several ready to declare a financial state of emergency, such as California, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

9) “U.S. public debt has topped $14 trillion for the first time in history”… This prediction, first written in the spring of 2011 when the final draft of my first book was completed, has since topped $16 trillion.

10) The U.S. poverty rate is the highest in the industrialized world. Predictably, homelessness is rising at an increased rate as well. The U.S. government does not tally the numbers but interested organizations say that more than 3 million people were homeless at some point over the past year. The fastest growing segment of the homeless population is families with children.

11) 50 percent of U.S. children will need to use food stamps to eat at some point in their childhood. In the African-American community, it is a shocking 90%. (As to why the black community isn’t protesting in the streets over this, I have no idea. Dear brothers and sisters, the time has come for all of us to stand up and fight for our kids!) This is a national disgrace, a social injustice and a cause for outrage and protest if ever there was one. We are all in awful shape when we can’t even feed our own children.

12) In 2010, according to the Census Bureau, the number of U.S. citizens without health care grew to a record 50 million. Furthermore, this statistic is on track to exceed 56 million by the end of this year (prior to Obamacare – PB).

13) Lack of health insurance caused 45,000 preventable U.S. citizen deaths in 2010. The American Journal of Medicine recently released a study that stated, “Nearly two out of three bankruptcies stem from medical bills, and even people with health insurance face financial disaster if they experience a serious illness.”

14) A Johns Hopkins Children’s Center study reported that 17,000 US children have died due to lack of health care. You can also add in a recent report that revealed that 2,266 U.S. veterans have died in 2008 due to lack of access to health care.

15) The gun and ammunition manufacturing industry in the United States has over 200 companies producing billions of dollars in annual revenues. This huge manufacturing base cannot fulfill demand quickly enough. The demand for guns and ammunition has hit a record high and the gun industry cannot produce enough bullets to keep up with orders. Americans are arming themselves to the teeth! In the past year, 100 new armed militia groups have been formed across the US as militia members have doubled in numbers. Federal authorities are gravely concerned about the “up-tick in militia activities.” One federal authority recently said, “All it’s lacking is a spark.”

16) Between January 1996 and September 2006, there were 253 confirmed incursions into the United States by Mexican government personnel. There is documentation of shots fired on both sides of the border, unmarked helicopters invading U.S. airspace, drug smuggling and actual confrontations between U.S. Border Patrol agents and armed members of the Mexican military. All it will take is one violent cross-border incident to start a US-Mexican war. What is such a shame about all this is that if the US government would just call off the stupid, idiotic and pointless “war on drugs”, all the cartel-related violence that is now occurring on and below our southern border would disappear almost overnight. As it stands right now, American law enforcement and the CIA have Mexican blood on their hands.

 

 

Exacerbating all 16 of these facts – all of whom were sourced directly off the Web – is the fact that America can’t even print its own money. This critical national responsibility has been undertaken – hijacked would be more life it – by none other than the Federal Reserve. As many of you know, the Fed isn’t even a part of the US government. It’s a privately held corporation that operates in the utmost secrecy. Makes you wonder why they think they need to do that, now doesn’t it? As to how badly the Federal Reserve System (which many call the World’s largest counterfeiter) has destroyed the American economy is evidenced in their destruction of the US Dollar which has lost over a quarter of its value in the past 8 years, and what a single Dollar could buy in 1913, when this secret banking cabal began to strangle these people, would cost $21.67 today, and which comes out to a shocking inflation rate of 2067%! And, as hard as it is to believe it is nevertheless true that Americans pay more on overdraft fees to their banker masters than they spend on fresh vegetables! Russian Finance Ministry calculations dating back to 2012 show that should the American people stop paying their money to banks (mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, etc.) and all declare bankruptcy, the entire debt load carried by the US Government would be paid or written off in less than 2 years and the United States would have over $85 trillion available to them over the next 10 years to pay for the complete rebuilding of their Nation and society. What we have instead is America being driven right into the ground by an evil and oftentimes crazy group of people who answer only to the top 1%, to the detriment of the remaining 99%. The worst part is that it is in their best interest to run the country into the ground because they will make a lot of money from the collapse of the USA, and that is exactly what they are trying to do.

 

As Benjamin Franklin famously said over 200 years ago, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.” In the meantime, it is now official. A majority of Americans are willing to give up liberty in order to be safer from so-called “terrorism”. Never mind that the chief perpetrator of this “terrorism” is the US federal government and the military-industrial-intelligence complex it controls. A stunning new McClatchy-Ipsos poll has found that 51 percent of Americans agree with this statement: “It is necessary to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safe from terrorism.” Only 36 percent of those polled agreed with this statement: “Some of the government’s proposals will go too far in restricting the publics civil liberties.” Have they really been brainwashed into willingly giving up their essential liberties just so they can feel a little safer? Maybe some have, but I sure haven’t. So almost 4 out of 5 Americans are perfectly fine with letting airport security officials gawk at their naked bodies just so they can feel a bit safer from terrorists? How crazy is that? The truth is that when Americans allow themselves to become so wimpy and so fearful that they are willing to throw many of their most important freedoms out the window, those “terrorists” have already won.

 

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America must either fight back against the 1% elite or face oblivion

Apocalypse Soon?

By Rev. Paul J. Bern

As I pause to take a look around me, I observe that my country is under attack both from without and within. It remains to be seen whether the outcome of these multiple attacks will amount to anything more than a temporary convenience, but I see ominous warning signs all around me. Externally, we have and will continue to come under attack here at home due to America’s aggressive deployments of numerous US troops overseas while simultaneously being burdened with a crushing war debt that can never be repaid. Add to this the fact that the deadly drone strikes all over the Middle East and Africa are killing scores of innocent civilians, and America has enraged far more people than many of us realize by doing so. If America’s Arab allies in the petroleum-producing countries were to suddenly turn on us, the US would find itself in a challenging situation, to say the least. Yet this glaring fact has not ceased to blind the eyes of those in power who see only the oil when they look at the Middle East. It will only be when the US converts from gas and diesel to much clear-burning natural gas for their cars and trucks, something America has in abundance, that America will be able to finally break her addiction to Mideast oil.

Internally, our country is under attack from rampant corruption that overshadows most other countries in size and scope, and it is a systemic corruption that goes all the way to the top. But there is something else going on here, something underneath the surface, that is far greater than either of these other two threats I have mentioned. I am writing about what now-deceased TBN host Grant Jeffery once called a “shadow government”. This shadow government is a cabal of unelected, shadowy private interests that control the multinational corporations, the World Bank, the IMF and the US military-industrial complex, among other things. This “shadow government” is made up of members of the global top 1% income bracket, and their activities are directed against the rest of us in the form of an enforced inequality, as you know all too well by now. I have compiled the following list that proves “we the people” are under just such an attack.

1) The inequality of wealth in the United States and abroad has soared to an unprecedented level. The U.S. already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the 2008 financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the middle class and poor much harder than the top 1 percent, the gap between the top 1 percent and the remaining 99 percent of the U.S. population is greater than ever.

2) The three big banks that took taxpayer money and benefited the most from the government bailout have just set a new global economic record by issuing $30 billion in annual bonuses this year, “up 60 percent from last year.”

3) The profits of the economic elite are now underwritten by taxpayers with $23.7 trillion worth of national wealth. As the looting is occurring at the top, the U.S. middle class is just beginning to collapse.

4) Workers between the ages of 55 to 60, who have worked for 20 to 29 years, have lost an average of 25 percent off their 401k. During the same time period, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans went up by $30 billion, bringing their total combined wealth to $1.57 trillion.

5) Home foreclosure filings hit a record high in the third quarter of 2010 and continues into 2014. Over 3.4 million homes entered foreclosure by the end of 2010, and this year will top 4 million.

6) 25 million people are unemployed or underemployed. That’s nearly 1 in 6 Americans.

7) There have been 123 U.S. bank failures thus far this year (as of 2012 – PB).

8) 10 U.S. states are on the verge of bankruptcy, with several ready to declare a financial state of emergency, such as California, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

9) “U.S. public debt has topped $14 trillion for the first time in history”… This prediction, first written in the spring of 2011 when the final draft of my first book was completed, has since topped $16 trillion.

10) The U.S. poverty rate is the highest in the industrialized world. Predictably, homelessness is rising at an increased rate as well. The U.S. government does not tally the numbers but interested organizations say that more than 3 million people were homeless at some point over the past year. The fastest growing segment of the homeless population is families with children.

11) 50 percent of U.S. children will need to use food stamps to eat at some point in their childhood. In the African-American community, it is a shocking 90%. (As to why the black community isn’t protesting in the streets over this, I have no idea. Dear brothers and sisters, the time has come for all of us to stand up and fight for our kids!) This is a national disgrace, a social injustice and a cause for outrage and protest if ever there was one. We are all in awful shape when we can’t even feed our own children.

12) In 2010, according to the Census Bureau, the number of U.S. citizens without health care grew to a record 50 million. Furthermore, this statistic is on track to exceed 56 million by the end of this year (prior to Obamacare – PB).

13) Lack of health insurance caused 45,000 preventable U.S. citizen deaths in 2010. The American Journal of Medicine recently released a study that stated, “Nearly two out of three bankruptcies stem from medical bills, and even people with health insurance face financial disaster if they experience a serious illness.”

14) A Johns Hopkins Children’s Center study reported that 17,000 US children have died due to lack of health care. You can also add in a recent report that revealed that 2,266 U.S. veterans have died in 2008 due to lack of access to health care.

15) The gun and ammunition manufacturing industry in the United States has over 200 companies producing billions of dollars in annual revenues. This huge manufacturing base cannot fulfill demand quickly enough. The demand for guns and ammunition has hit a record high and the gun industry cannot produce enough bullets to keep up with orders. Americans are arming themselves to the teeth! In the past year, 100 new armed militia groups have been formed across the US as militia members have doubled in numbers. Federal authorities are gravely concerned about the “up-tick in militia activities.” One federal authority recently said, “All it’s lacking is a spark.”

16) Between January 1996 and September 2006, there were 253 confirmed incursions into the United States by Mexican government personnel. There is documentation of shots fired on both sides of the border, unmarked helicopters invading U.S. airspace, drug smuggling and actual confrontations between U.S. Border Patrol agents and armed members of the Mexican military. All it will take is one violent cross-border incident to start a US-Mexican war. What is such a shame about all this is that if the US government would just call off the stupid, idiotic and pointless “war on drugs”, all the cartel-related violence that is now occurring on and below our southern border would disappear almost overnight. As it stands right now, American law enforcement and the CIA have Mexican blood on their hands.

Exacerbating all 16 of these facts – all of whom were sourced directly off the Web – is the fact that America can’t even print its own money. This critical national responsibility has been undertaken – hijacked would be more life it – by none other than the Federal Reserve. As many of you know, the Fed isn’t even a part of the US government. It’s a privately held corporation that operates in the utmost secrecy. Makes you wonder why they think they need to do that, now doesn’t it? As to how badly the Federal Reserve System (which many call the World’s largest counterfeiter) has destroyed the American economy is evidenced in their destruction of the US Dollar which has lost over a quarter of its value in the past 8 years, and what a single Dollar could buy in 1913, when this secret banking cabal began to strangle these people, would cost $21.67 today, and which comes out to a shocking inflation rate of 2067%! And, as hard as it is to believe it is nevertheless true that Americans pay more on overdraft fees to their banker masters than they spend on fresh vegetables! Russian Finance Ministry calculations dating back to 2012 show that should the American people stop paying their money to banks (mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, etc.) and all declare bankruptcy, the entire debt load carried by the US Government would be paid or written off in less than 2 years and the United States would have over $85 trillion available to them over the next 10 years to pay for the complete rebuilding of their Nation and society. What we have instead is America being driven right into the ground by an evil and oftentimes crazy group of people who answer only to the top 1%, to the detriment of the remaining 99%. The worst part is that it is in their best interest to run the country into the ground because they will make a lot of money from the collapse of the USA, and that is exactly what they are trying to do.

As Benjamin Franklin famously said over 200 years ago, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.” In the meantime, it is now official. A majority of Americans are willing to give up liberty in order to be safer from so-called “terrorism”. Never mind that the chief perpetrator of this “terrorism” is the US federal government and the military-industrial-intelligence complex it controls. A stunning new McClatchy-Ipsos poll has found that 51 percent of Americans agree with this statement: “It is necessary to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safe from terrorism.” Only 36 percent of those polled agreed with this statement: “Some of the government’s proposals will go too far in restricting the publics civil liberties.” Have they really been brainwashed into willingly giving up their essential liberties just so they can feel a little safer? Maybe some have, but I sure haven’t. So almost 4 out of 5 Americans are perfectly fine with letting airport security officials gawk at their naked bodies just so they can feel a bit safer from terrorists? How crazy is that? The truth is that when Americans allow themselves to become so wimpy and so fearful that they are willing to throw many of their most important freedoms out the window, those “terrorists” have already won.

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Economic Injustice — America’s Workers Need a Severe Turnaround

Solving America’s Economic Problems:

What’s the First Step?

by Rev. Paul J. Bern (excerpt from chapter 7 of his 2012 book,

Occupying America: We Shall Overcome“)

As the financial industry’s largest players have been unleashed by the US Supreme Court (among others) to pursue profit for themselves at all costs, the dreadful consequences have made a huge impact. Pensions have been wiped out. Family homes have been stripped of value, with millions taken away altogether. Small businesses have been locked out of credit markets. More than 14 million people are exiled from the labor force, with one in four workers over the age of 50 never returning (I know because I was one of those people – that’s what gives me the time to write books). An absolutely galling one in three black children and nearly as many Latino children are growing up in poverty right now, while the president brags about ferreting out fraud in the food stamp program rather than getting more money for it. Our chosen political leaders have tolerated all of this in order to maintain the fiction that our economic system still works, and that the organizing principles of our society remain valid. So the central question of any related political debate must be simple: How do we acknowledge that our current economy is built on lies and then start erecting a new one based on equity and sustainability? It is far better than what we currently have; an economy where we steal from the future, sell it in the present, and call it Gross Domestic Product. GDP and economic growth are simply an inter-generational Ponzi scheme biding its time while our government continues to steal from its own treasury. Obviously this cannot continue indefinitely, yet our US government remains in a state of denial regarding its existence. In so doing, our leaders have lost all touch with reality.

What is it that has clouded humanity’s judgment to such an extent? We as a species have, on balance, performed extraordinarily well. We’ve been around for at least a couple hundred thousand years, maybe even longer. It has only been within the last couple thousand years that we have had running water indoors, only the last 150 years since indoor plumbing was invented, and only 50 years since the last remaining houses in the US were refitted with electricity. As we’ve evolved, we have created a quality of life for billions that was unimaginable at this scale even a few decades ago. Where we have failed, we have often (but not always) attempted to correct. So, why are we collectively failing to recognize that our current trajectory of development is not sustainable? One probability is that our problem lies in humanity’s collective delusion that we can have infinite quantitative economic growth on a finite planet. This prominent fallacy is largely driven by our current model of consumer-driven economic growth. Our obsession with growth is not just a fleeting idea or a passing fancy, it is the idea that supports the global economy and society in general. It structures the politics and economic strategies for nearly every government on the planet. And individually, many people measure their progress both personally and professionally based on how much money they make, or that of their overall economic status.

The prosperity and stability promised by economic growth has not always delivered. Certainly in developing countries such as the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, impressive GDP growth figures can represent the crossing of the poverty line for millions of individuals. However, GDP growth does not always represent a magic formula for a better quality of life. How do we break ourselves out of this mindset? Society needs to develop a different, more sophisticated economic model. We need to find a way out of the institutional and social constraints that lock us into a failing, self-perpetuating system. We need an extensive change in values, lifestyles and social structure, and our economic system would be a good place to start. All the wrong things with our political and economic systems, starting with capitalism as a debt-based economy, simply have no place in the 21st century. Just as society as a whole needs to move away from viewing economic growth as the ultimate measure of progress, the business world must divorce itself from a mindset that is primarily focused on creating growth in shareholder wealth. The era of shareholder-owned businesses and corporations will be replaced with a worker-owned business model. Competition must change to cooperation in order to make livable a world whose population will exceed 8 billion in just a few short years. We will achieve this not only by asking ourselves the following question: What kind of legacy do we want to leave our ancestors?

No matter how one looks at the economic woes plaguing America, in essence they are simply costs of all kinds – costs that keep escalating and accelerating at the same time. Rising unemployment, budget deficits, housing foreclosures, rising energy and food prices, unaffordable health care, accumulating credit card debt, Wall St. bailouts, the impending devaluation of the U.S. Dollar (which will occur no later than the end of 2016), outsourcing middle class US jobs overseas for pennies on the dollar while putting over 1/3 of America’s middle class out in the street, products built with planned obsolescence and obsolete technologies, global warming, depletion of natural resources, rumors of nuclear wars – all these represent costs. Reducing the general cost of an economy requires the implementation of a series of well-measured economic, monetary, fiscal, political, and technological policies. Many US corporations can think of no way to cut costs other than firing employees, downsizing, and outsourcing production to low-cost-labor countries. These methods may generate profits for corporations and their fat cat shareholders but ultimately are destructive and cause the middle class – the most important base of an economy – to break down, shrink, and disappear. It’s just one more reason for all of us to rise up and fight back.

The first and foremost goal of any planned transition from a capitalist (debt-driven and shareholder-owned) economic system to a more balanced (resource-based with worker ownership) free enterprise system must be to avoid the conventional method of increasing poverty in the interest of maximizing profit. This method is morally and socially wrong because no one should have the right to damage anyone’s livelihood for the sake of profit. Acquiring wealth through methods that make others poor and homeless is no great achievement. Instead, the trick is to make others well-off while accumulating wealth for oneself.

The vicious cycle of cost is paralyzing our economy. To break out of this cycle, we cannot simply take imprudent and shortsighted steps such as firing people, or reducing their salaries and benefits to balance the budget without taking the most necessary measure! Energy is the most devilish cost and must be eliminated – totally, rigorously, and permanently – before we can tackle any other cost. The cost of energy, whether for private households, corporations, or government, is the plague of our economy. Why must we tackle the cost of energy first? Because it is the root source of the vicious cycle of cost. The cost of energy does not just escalate and accelerate as energy goes through the different production stages until reaching the consumer. It reduces the purchasing power of private households, companies, and governments. As the cost of energy rises, the entire economy becomes less mobile, leading to a decline in economic activity and eventually to a recession.

The increasing cost of imported energy such as crude oil leads to increased deficits, which compounds the cost of interest further. Unemployment rises as the cost of energy escalates. Rising energy costs put America’s wealth at risk of ending up in the hands of hostile Middle Eastern countries, or possibly in a face-off with China and Russia over dwindling oil stockpiles. America currently has enough natural gas to last for the next 200 years. Besides, the future cost of developing alternative energy sources becomes tremendously more expensive the longer we wait to tap into those resources. No other type of cost comes with such severe consequences. Therefore, the first and most critical step towards slashing economic costs is to reduce energy costs mercilessly. America needs to find a way to eliminate our need for imported oil from countries that are hostile to us. Coal and nuclear power must be replaced with natural gas, as I wrote above, followed by solar, wind, off-shore hydroelectric and hydrogen fusion power, the same as what powers our sun and the stars in the heavens. Other energy innovations are already in the works by a number of inventors, with a race to perfect the ultimate clean energy source similar to that of putting a man on the moon in the 1960’s. Our cars and trucks must be converted to run on domestically plentiful natural gas, which burns much cleaner than gasoline, in order to end our dependency on foreign oil. Putting the infrastructure in place nationwide will take several years or more and create one to three million new jobs. That’s why those who are in a position to should do the patriotic thing and implement such a program and put millions of your fellow Americans back to work.

Then there is the problem of our antiquated, energy-hungry power grid as it currently exists on the North American continent. Whenever we plug an appliance of one kind or another into a power plug in the wall, we are running that appliance on direct current, which has been around since the 1800’s as a source of energy, and it is long past due for replacement. The use of direct current involves the usage of relatively high voltages of 110 volts and up. According to an old truism about electricity known as Ohm’s law, whenever the resistance across a circuit is constant, an increase in voltage is accompanied by an increase in current. The more voltage being maintained on a circuit or a grid, the more electrical current is necessary to keep that voltage at a constant level, and the more energy is required to generate that much electricity. Conversely, if our power grid only needed to generate, say, about one twentieth or 5% of the electricity that it currently needs to generate to maintain the necessary power levels, then it would only need about 5-10% of the fuel that it currently requires. That, to say the least, would completely change the equation as far as electrical usage and costs were concerned for all of North America. The excess could even be exported overseas to parts of the third world who have not yet fully developed their electrical grids. So, it is no exaggeration to say that converting our power grid from analog to digital would reduce America’s energy use for electricity generation by up to 95%, since digital usually runs on +5 or -5 volts, or occasionally on +/- 12 or 24 volts. Converting America’s electrical grid from analog to low-voltage digital is a project that would take up to 10 years and create a minimum of 3 million jobs, and possibly as many as twice that number. It should be made part of a much larger overall public works program to generate millions of urgently needed American jobs. We already have the means and the knowledge to implement such a mass overhaul of America’s electrical grid, and Congress and the President should provide the funding through legislation. If they are unwilling to do that, then it will be up to us, “we the people”, to vote such a public works project by way of popular referendum. One way or another, we have the power to make these improvements a reality, and it is crucial that we do so at the first opportunity.

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