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New Way of Thinking Needed

In this issue:

Green City, Part I: Remedial environmentalism is so 20th Century!
California faces a fiscal and political crisis
California enfrenta una crisis política y fiscal
Dear Dennis Kucinich
Prop 54 is racist and dumb
Tom Hutchings runs for Assembly
Form and Function
On the "Progressive Democrat", and their threat to progressives
Military Recruiters: Stop marketing war to our children
Stay Green!
New Way of Thinking Needed
Book review: "The Candidate's Handbook"
Book review: Once upon a time in the future
Recall FAQ
Letters to the Editor
News Clips
Survival of species requires quantum leap of imagination to overcome the manipulation of our fears to further the conservative agenda.

By Randy Potter

The conservative agenda not only successfully plays upon people's fears but are in large part, along with their willing accomplices in the media, responsible for instilling those fears in the public's mind. A key piece of their overall strategy has been to inculcate the American psyche with the culture of fear. Remember George Sr.'s campaign hit piece on the revolving door prison system featuring Willie Horton? The knee-jerk reaction of many Americans to 9/11 was to buy a gun.

The ruling regime has become experts in the art of manipulating people to further their agenda. They know that people don't trust government. They turn that to their advantage by inserting into the belief system phrases such as "big government vs. small government". Big government is bad, unfairly taxes people and intrudes into their lives, i.e., affirmative action and social welfare programs. Knowing there must be some government they wrongly believe that less government is better and that tax cuts are good for the economy. The reality is that stagflation proved the fallacy of 19th century economic theories and yet policies are still based on those flawed theories. The reality is that less government means less regulation of businesses which rarely have the public's best interests at heart.

One hundred years ago the public was regularly defrauded out of their savings, poisoned by the food and medicines they took and killed or maimed at the jobs they performed. People demanded protection from these social ills and guess who opposed them? You guessed it-the businesses that would be subject to regulation. Even then they figured out ways to evade the rules and eventually with judicious applications of generous "donations" to the right politician were able to hand pick those whose job it was to regulate them.

As far as taxation, many corporations and wealthy individuals pay little if any tax. The right is fond of inveighing against welfare cheats, weaning the subclass from welfare and cutting funding for programs aimed at the disadvantaged, while brazenly promoting subsidies, tax breaks and regulations amounting to corporate welfare for the advantaged. Their strategy shifts the costs and risks of doing business to the public while reaping all of the benefits.

A clear example of this is the area of energy. Producers of energy get tax breaks and selective enforcement of rules designed to protect the environment. Then when profits flatline they use their huge economic clout and political leverage to rewrite the rules to reap new windfalls and when it starts to unravel we the people are expected to bail them out and save them from their poor business judgment. The PUC, which it is charged with protecting the public interest and whose commissioners frequently come from the energy industry, routinely passes on to the ratepayers unexpected costs of doing business. The public again subsidizes large businesses who are given a better rate because they buy more units of energy. The public has been brainwashed to accept the duplicitous logic of economies of scale, i.e., the more one buys the cheaper the price. The fact is energy is too important to be treated as just another commodity. The rate should be the same for everyone and if the public chooses to give large consumers of energy a break it should be designed to encourage conservation.

People resign themselves to the role assigned to them of being the fuel for the engine of corporate capitalism, which more and more reveals itself to be capitalism without conscience or compassion. This form of capitalism views people as expendable units of consumption to be used up. Every aspect of our lives is manipulated to produce revenue streams funneled to the select few. As long as we have our techno toys, SUV's, reality TV and other weapons of mass distraction we don't really want to know what's being done to us.

We've been told as wealth accumulates at the top the spillover trickles down to the rest of us. But what trickles down is a pittance with few benefits such as health care and no guarantee of pensions for retirement. What bubbles up is cynicism, complacency, dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors, despair and fear. Fear of the unknown, the other, change, anything which doesn't fit into what is accepted and expected. People are in this state are easily manipulated because their behavior is so predictable. Corporations and their political operatives know this and that's why nothing changes and the same kinds of people keep getting elected year after year.

Even more dangerous than the unjust divisions created by wealth, the ideological divide threatens to polarize us into two mutually exclusive world views. One view, dominated by the religious right, sees the world in absolute terms, says we are always right, God is on our side, all who oppose us are evil, relies on reductionist rationality, fears change and believes in the use of hard power to dominate and intimidate. The other view sees reality less dogmatically and more in relational terms, uses critical thinking and intuition, challenges orthodoxy, sees spirituality as an individual matter, sees the flaws and unlimited potential for greatness in humanity, is tired of war, hatred, injustice, intolerance and fear, believes in the use of soft power of ideals based on equality, respect, compassion and justice for all and longs for a peaceful world in which no one is hungry or afraid.

This may sound like a utopian dream. We've been conditioned to believe it just isn't possible, that we must wait for an afterlife to experience this. I believe, however, that our Creator instilled this longing in us for a reason. I believe we create our afterlife by what we attempt to create in this world. If we would truly deserve an afterlife, whether or not there is one, we must create heaven here on earth.

A quantum leap in our imaginations will be required, but it is absolutely imperative that we change our way of thinking because we live in a dynamic universe based on change. If our species doesn't do something drastic to alter the direction we're heading we will be swept away like so many other species before us, our "special" place in God's plan for creation notwithstanding.


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