from Alice: My time and energy commitments have shifted to other things on my bucket list, and I will no longer be able to keep up with what I have been doing with Occupy Aroostook. I still believe in the Occupy movement, and I hope one or more of you out there may feel called to take over the responsibilities of keeping the group going. If so, let me know, and I will see about making you an administrator of the the gmail account, the Facebook page, and the blog site.
Calls for culture wars are built into the founding documents of our nation: “All men are created Equal.” “Promote the General Welfare.” “Provide for the General Welfare.” From the beginning these moral promises were problematic. Women were not even included in the definition of equal; a huge part of the economy depended on slavery; only property owners could vote. Culture wars are responsible for bringing constitutional promises to fruition. The abolition of slavery was a culture war. All the civil rights movements since are culture wars. The Labor and Feminist movements are culture wars.
To restore and protect our environment, to guarantee the promise of equality for all by curbing the greed and power of Wall Street, to protect women’s reproductive rights and the voting rights of all, to find a way in the richest country of the world to provide health care for all—these are some culture wars of our time.
There has never been a time in my life where such wars were more necessary. In just 2 short years since the 2010 elections, everything I care most about has been under increased threat right here in Maine. There were early efforts in this administration to restrict women’s reproductive rights. Workers were publicly insulted by the removal of the mural from the Maine Department of Labor. The Governor seeks to roll back environmental protections regulations. An attempt to restrict voting rights had to be defeated by referendum. Polls show that a majority of Mainers favor equal marriage rights, but a referendum is necessary to get them. Restrictions to Medicaid and the new health care law are already leaving many people without any financial access to basic health care. That law is a great benefit to insurance companies, and insurance premiums continue to rise.
I believe in living within a balanced budget, but it is cruel and abusive to do it by cutting benefits to the poor, sick, and disabled while at the same time giving the kind of tax cuts that have been enacted. My tax cut will be relatively small, but it would mean a lot more in terms of access to basic necessities such as heating fuel and necessary health care to people in my income bracket than to the wealthiest. Yet I would gladly turn back my tax cut to restore the benefits taken away. What I have lost as a retired teacher in pension cuts will likely more than offset my tax cut, and still I would not mind my pension losses so much, either, if the money were going to provide for the general welfare instead of for the welfare of the wealthiest people in our state.
In as much as I am accused as a liberal of being a cause of culture wars or class warfare such as I am engaged in here, I plead guilty. I am glad to be a soldier in the nonviolent struggles to protect “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all.
Published The Star Herald, August 29, 2012
Letter to the Editor, The Star Herald, June 27, 2012
MAY DAY, May 1
March, 5:15, to celebrate International Labor Day. Meet in parking lot on Maine Street in front of Big Cheese Pizza. Walk to UMPI.
LOCAL ORGANIC FARMING: PROBLEMS AND POSSIBILITIES
May 1st, 6:00-8:00PM, join local farmers in the UMPI CAMPUS CENTER, ROOM 118, for a round table discussion about organic farming and the difficulties modern social and economic situations present.
Light refreshments will be offered.
• Jim Gerretsen
• John Chartier
• Steve Miller
• Stan Maynard
• Carol Ayoob
WITH MODERATOR GAIL MAYNARD
Link to PDF file to print: Local Farming Flyer
PDF file to print: Flag Leaflet
WHAT IS ALEC?
The American Legislative Exchange Council describes itself at http://www.alec.org/as “the nation’s largest, non-partisan, public-private membership association of state legislators.” It stands for “Limited Government, Free Markets, Federalism.” “Nine National Task Forces serve as public policy laboratories where legislators develop model policies to use across the country.”
WHO IS ALEC?
“Nearly 2000 state legislators” and “nearly 300 corporate and private foundation members” with 3 membership levels of $7000, $12,000, and $25,000.
WHY DOES ALEC MATTER TO YOU?
Do you want Maine legislative policies, values, and decisions to be formulated by a national policy think tank? Do you want national and state laws to be decided by the richest 1% such as ALEC board members from AT&T, Coca-Cola, Exxon Mobil, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Koch Companies, Pfizer, WalMart? “Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called ‘model bills’ reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. In ALEC’s own words, corporations have a ‘Voice and a Vote’ on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state?” http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed
Where is your voice heard? What is happening to your vote?
Sponsored by Occupy Aroostook. Join us for march each Saturday, 2:00 PM, parking lot behind Key Bank on Main St.
by Alice Bolstridge
Today, not without some trepidation, I am sounding off with very little of the research I usually do when putting on my self-styled cultural-critic hat. As an English major, I don’t have official credentials for this hat; and I haven’t, until this last week, paid much attention to Rush Limbaugh. It took his insults of Sandra Fluke’s testimony to get me fired up enough about his behavior to visit the web site of WEGP Radio which features his broadcasts in our area.
Every day except Sunday for three hours, 18 hours a week, 936 hours a year, Rush Limbaugh broadcasts on our local Fox radio station. A college credit course is only 15 hours a semester. You can get official credentials, all the way to the 7-year Ph.D., even if you study the recommended 3 hours for every 1 hour of class time, you still put in only about 2/3 the amount of time that Limbaugh is on the air in one year. That is a lot of influence on the public. I have a healthy defensive respect for that kind of influence.
I do pay daily attention to my Facebook account, to PBS, and to local TV news, and I do know from that something about Glenn Beck who is scheduled for 15 hours a week on WEGP. I don’t remember ever hearing about Howie Carr and Dave Ramsey who take up 37 hours a week between them. Though I am an authentic local, I’m really ignorant about this side of local life, so I have plenty of research to do to find out more about these broadcasters and what kind of influence this one radio station has on our small rural communities here.
In the meantime, I have some suspicions. From glancing down a list of Limbaugh’s advertising sponsors, I suspect that very powerful high-profit corporate interests, national and international, have been sponsoring this type of broadcasting all across the nation for a long time; Limbaugh has been on WEGP for at least 15 years. According to some study I heard about, people who get most of their “news” from Fox are more misinformed than people who don’t listen to any news, must have been a liberal study. I suspect the relationship among these broadcasters, their sponsors, and their misinformed listeners links directly to the economic crash 99% of us are still reeling from. I suspect that our economy, politics, cultural interests, and moral values here and across the nation are shaped by these forces that favor the interests of the super-rich 1% at the expense of the rest of us.
Finally, though this may be merely a cry of hope and faith, I suspect that the outpouring of support for women’s contraceptive access is only one spark that is igniting another flame in the fire of growing opposition to the control of moneyed interests in our lives. Thanks to all who contacted WEGP to protest Rush Limbaugh’s behavior, he was off the air at least on March 9 while the station heard from listener-callers. Never underestimate the impact of any action.
Photos by Carol Ayoob
from Occupy Aroostook
February 15, 22 people attended the panel discussion sponsored by Occupy Aroostook on corporate money and influence in government. Panelists and participants discussed a wide range of problems: the “two-party dictatorship;” the waste of campaign and lobbying money that is unavailable for creating sustainable, well-paying jobs and for paying down the national debt; the destructive effects of the Citizen’s United decision such as the impact of negative advertising that does nothing to educate the public about the most important issues; the destructive effects of health-care lobbyists and campaign contributors on affordable health-care access and quality; trade agreements that put US workers and small business owners in an unfair competitive situation; the destructive effects of all these problems on the local economy.
Possible solutions were also explored: fair-share taxes; clean and limited-time elections; a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizen’s United decision; the return of the Glass-Steagall Act with better regulation of financial industries and corporations to prevent the unrestricted exercise of greed; boycotts of corporations that drive out local small businesses and exploit workers with low wages and no health or retirement benefits; single-payer, universal healthcare; fair-trade agreements with our neighbors; better support for local small businesses, farmer’s markets, and clean-energy developers. Following this meeting, Occupy Aroostook discussed at assembly on February 17 the possibility of hosting further discussions about problems and solutions in the local economy.
from Alice Bolstridge
In 2011 there were 12,633 registered lobbyists in Washington who spent $3.30 billion to lobby congress. The top spender is the US Chamber of Commerce at more than $805 million. Among the top 7 spenders are 4 national associations representing health-care industries. Together, they outspent the Chamber of Commerce by almost $70 million. That money adds to the total costs of health care. We now have so many people who can’t afford health insurance that our Maine governor and state legislature says we can no longer afford to provide services to all of them.
More than that, the Citizens United decision has inspired a campaign spending frenzy by the top 1%. President Obama has joined it. His campaign is expected to reach $1 billion. Very expensive speech, definitely not free. Senator Snow has raised more than $1 million from sources outside of Maine, more than 3 times as much as from inside. Billions to the so-called “job creators,” but those funds won’t be creating sustainable jobs in local communities that could prevent the problems of poverty. And that money won’t be paying down the national debt either.
The economic gap between the top 1% and the rest of us has been widening at an accelerating pace for at least 30 years. We have to turn the tide, and tides do not turn easily. It requires the kind of effort on many fronts at once that it took to beat back voting rights restrictions here in Maine. It looks like it requires more effort than we can manage on a piece-meal basis, one issue at a time. It requires a total transformation of cultural values about economic justice, like the transformations still in progress about race and gender equality.
Our whole culture, including the 99%, is occupied by the love of money. We are trained to it. It’s the American dream, and it’s an addictive love. To recover, we all need to give up the dream and abstain from compulsive allegiance to wealth. It is neither morally right nor economically sustainable that the CEO of WalMart earns $16000 an hour while the typical WalMart associate earns only $10 and is advised to go to Maine Care for health insurance. I urge you to join the Occupy Movement. Take to the streets with us. Go viral on social media. Let’s claim our rights to free speech and infuse ourselves and our economic and political systems with the spirit of righteous justice for all.
See this from Regis Tremblay and The Occupy Maine TV show: http://regtremblay.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/the-fundamental-issues-and-the-future-of-occupy-in-maine/
from Jessica Feeley
“Up With Chris Hayes” on MSNBC had a 30 minute discussion on the topic of Glass-Steagall. Even showed a clip of Sen. Dorgin (D-ND) predicting the disintegration of institutions that would be considered “too big to fail.”
They also discussed Citizens United and how SCOTUS has agreed to hear a case from Montana, which may cause the Brethren to overrule themselves on a point of fact. Apparently, Montana can prove that unlimited corporate money does throw elections. Go figure.
I just find it amazing that this happened in the same week that the President’s reelection campaign found it necessary to embrace Super-PAC money.