Category Archives: revolution

“You Say You Want a Revolution”

revolution

Revolution is in the air once again. When I was a younger person in the 60’s we talked about revolution incessantly. We had so many good reasons for wanting change. We were losing our guys in a war that seemed to have nothing to do with us, in a faraway tropical place called Vietnam. We were watching our policemen, our National Guardsmen and our elected officials turn fire houses on peaceful black folks who just want to be granted the equality that they were supposed to have won long before. Separate but equal was very obviously not equal at all (still isn’t). Women had the “pill” and we were stunned by the implications of that.

We were often granted dispensation from harsh punishment while we indulged peacefully in the illegal practice of getting high in public. We probably were treated gently for a while because the people in local power were our parents and they tried to let us express ourselves. Besides there were so many of us all, walking around in our flowery clothing imported from Mexico and India, and actually wearing flowers in our hair, and smiling in gentle understanding, even when practicing our civil disobedience as demonstrated by Martin Luther King, et al. All the lovely people would gather at outdoor concerts with happy half-dressed children running everywhere and bubbles in the pungent air. We were the very revolution we sought and we thought that our very existence would change America forever, and perhaps it did.

However, the intensity of that movement subsided, despite our feeling that it would make America forever new and better. There have been many effects on US politics that can be traced back to the peaceful revolution of the 60’s and 70’s. But the fervor we once felt for a new kind of authenticity got syphoned away by American materialism and we joined the race for the old American Dream of owning lovely things and creating a cushy comfort for ourselves and our families. Not that we gave up all of our zeal for lifting up those who did not yet share our comfort, but it began to be subsumed under the old adage that charity begins at home.

So now we are being aroused to a new revolution and, clearly, we need one. Our American Democracy has almost disappeared into the pockets of the wealthy few among us. It is clear to some of the 99.9% that there is too much money being flashed around, and too much of the influence it buys in our political system. We the people are being sidelined because we cannot compete with a system where influence is purchased.

We have numbers but we are not using the force of our majority very effectively. It is assumed that folks without wealth will rise up and demand our government back from the wealthy, although I have not seen many signs that this is the way events will unfold. The Occupy movement is the closest that we have come to mass demonstrations and that did not last very long or have much of an effect on those in power. We are too complacent or stupefied or in some way apolitical to even use the power of the vote. We seem happy to troll from the sidelines and we are not unified at all. We are the most divided we have been since perhaps the Civil War.

Bernie Sanders talks about revolution and some people swoon. I assume he means a peaceful revolution which will stay within the bounds of the Constitution and the present-day configuration of our government. But in these times of such a passionate partisan divide is a revolution a good idea? Will it go nuclear or can it be kept away from absolute mayhem? Would even a quiet revolution split America apart right now? Would the militias bring out the guns? Have Democrats been stockpiling guns? I don’t think I could bear another Civil War and I only experienced the first one at a considerable dusty remove. Could you watch America get torn apart? Would it come to that?

“You say you want a revolution”, but maybe these are not the times to be incendiary. Maybe we need some of that famous diplomacy so maligned by the Republicans that Obama has put his faith in. Perhaps I have done that terrible getting-more-conservative-as-I-get-older thing or perhaps I am just chickening out. I do think there are many things that we need to change in order that we all thrive in the future, something which seems not in the least guaranteed as matters stand right now.

I don’t want to see our nation “ripped asunder” and considering how divided we are at this time and how passionately people defend positions that are polar opposites, becoming two Americas seems more than a likely outcome of holding the revolution in 2016. I have revolution in my soul so I could perhaps be swayed by really good arguments in favor of such a movement. But mostly I think that the skill required to keep this revolution from getting out of hand seems beyond our normal style of throwing bills at problems and hoping they become the laws that fix things.

By Nancy Brisson

CEO Pay and the Revolution

In the New York Times of 6/30/2013 there was an article in the business section entitled “An Unstoppable Climb in CEO pay” which I heard quoted several times of CNN last week, although it sort of got lost in a week that was an absolute fiesta of breaking news.

”According to an updated analysis, the top 200 chief executives at public companies with at least $1 billion in revenue actually got a big raise last year, over all. The research, conducted for Sunday Business by Equilar Inc., the executive compensation analysis firm, found that the median 2012 pay package came in at $15.1 million — a leap of 16 percent from 2011.” 

On Google+ a poster shares a graphic which shows a 725 increase in CEO pay in the past 14 years.

This next graphic will show you  more information about the differences between pay at the top and pay for the rest of us. Follow the link below if you want to see the actual graphic. I have summarized the information contained in the graphic in the chart you see after this link.
http://www.payscale.com/content/data-packages/ceos/ps-ceo-infographic-625a.png  

Walmart                               1,034:1  CEO-to-Worker Pay Ratio             $23,150,000 Mike Duke’s Pay
                                                $22,400 Median Worker Pay                       Walmart pays below market
Target                                   597:1   CEO-to-Worker Ratio                      $17,890,000 Gregg S.’s Pay
                                                $29,900 Median Worker Pay                     Target Pays at Market
Walt Disney Co.                    557:1  CEO-to-Worker Ratio                       $31,630,000 Bob Iger’s Pay
                                                $56,800 Median Worker Pay                     WD pays +8% Above Market
Honeywell                          439:1  CEO-to-Worker Ratio                         $32,860,000 David Cote’s Pay
                                                $74,700 Median Worker Pay                    Honeywell Pays At Market
McDonald’s                        434:1  CEO-to-Worker Pay                  $ 9,550,000 James Skinner’s Pay
                                                $22,000 Median Worker Pay           McDonald’s Pays -6% Below Market
The 5 lowest pay ratio belong to Amazon at 18:1, Sunoco at 15:1, Microsoft at 12:1, Berkshire Hathaway, Inc at 9:1, and Google at 0:1.

I’m not sure we are at all surprised to know that the gap between CEO and worker pay is increasing. We may be surprised by the geometric progression of the increase in CEO pay. There can be repercussions if such a trend continues indefinitely. So, I want to make a hypothetical logical argument. I want to make it very clear that I am not trying to foment a revolution. However, I believe that it is commonly accepted that when wealth is concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of people and when the gap between the richest people in a society and all other individuals in the society keeps growing wider and wider, eventually those at the bottom are likely to rebel against those at the top in order to once again equalize the distribution of wealth. I am not saying that we are at this point in America, but it looks like we may get to that point sooner rather than later if the distribution of wealth continues to follow the patterns that have been described above.

And it is also apparent that if any weapons stockpiles are being accumulated by any group of Americans then we might guess that Conservatives are ahead of other groups in this stockpiling given that they belong in greater numbers to the NRA and have been fanatically protective of their right to continue to stockpile weapons (including semi-automatic weapons and very large clips of ammunition). Odd, since a majority of the wealthiest Americans seem to lean right you would think that the poorer and poorer Conservatives in the party would feel some hostility to their big business leadership, but they seem to feel every bit as powerful as those who are stockpiling all of our money, instead of all of our guns. So pretty good for the right; in the event of a revolution Conservatives will have both the bucks and the buckaroos to wage war, but who will they wage war against? Will they wage war against their buddies with all the money. There doesn’t seem to be any hostility coming from the Conservatives at the bottom of the economic heap against the Conservatives at the top of the heap. All hostilities seem to be directed towards the left. Maybe Conservatives believe that if they help those in the GOP who have all the wealth win the day there will be some kind of quid pro quo when the revolution is over. 

I suppose we on the left have our moneyed honchos and honchettes also, but we may not have the weapons.  Perhaps us lefties need to start our weapons collecting and form secret militias and join shooting clubs to practice our marksmanship. Should we just let the right wingers have their way with America in Congress now so they won’t have to use their guns later? They would probably be rather disappointed if they could not point and shoot. They’ve been practicing for quite a while. However, it could exact a large toll on the population and infrastructure of America if they turn the country into a shooting gallery. Perhaps at some point Conservatives without bucks and liberals without bucks will form an alliance against those who have cornered all the bucks, but at this point that seems unlikely.

All right, call off the revolution for now. If we’re just going to end up as Tea Party Nation then why bother. We could pass some laws that reverse the laws that are letting all of the cream rise to the top of America, but we are told that redistribution of wealth is socialism, or communism, or fascism, or all three, and everyone seems to buy this, so laws that redistribute potential wealth will never be allowed. If we can’t reverse this trend that is creating an enormous gap between the few at the top and the many of us at the bottom something will eventually happen and I still contend that right now the Conservatives are better armed for the some-day revolution. So either start a gun cache now, or elect Democrats in 2014.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

Egypt: Nostalgia and Hope

Egypt – we miss you. You were the exotic land of the Pharaohs and the Pyramids and of Antiquity that we loved to visit. We loved to ride your camels and sail in your feluccas and eat your tasty food. We loved your colors and your liveliness and we loved hating your driving.
I hope Egyptians are not suffering from “buyer’s remorse”.  It would be easy to miss the “old” Egypt because it was peaceful and it worked (sort of) – but it was not working for everyone and that’s what led to change. That the changes have not gotten Egyptians where they wanted to go is the sad reality of now. But there is still hope that Egyptians will be able to get where they want to go in time. What is required is a clear picture of the government and the society they would like to live in. Perhaps that is what Egyptians are supposed to be doing right now, inventing their future, which I don’t think involves living under a military dictatorship any more than it involved living under a civilian dictatorship.
Whatever you become we will still love you. Take your time and get it right. And stop taking out your frustrations on each other at soccer games if you can.