Friday, November 4, 2011

These are the Times

By John Perkins
“A man in debt is so far a slave.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
My job as an economic hit man during the 1970s was to enslave nations that had resources our corporations coveted by burdening them with debts they could never repay. We then demanded that they sell those resources cheap, without social or environmental regulations, to our corporations.
It was an incredibly successful strategy. In essence it created the world’s first truly global empire and the first one that was not built primarily through military occupations. It also transformed geo-politics. The power of elected officials was usurped by those who sit at the top of the multinational corporations (the ‘corporatocracy’).
This success led to the realization that similar strategies could be applied in the United States in order to emasculate a population that was exerting its democratic rights in ways that threatened the corporatocracy  – forcing an end to the highly profitable Vietnam War, demanding racial and gender equality, increasing social security, Medicare, education, and other services.
By 1980, the Reagan administration understood that its most effective weapon to protect corporations against labor movements was debt. Borrowers were deceived into believing that they were paying low interest rates when in fact balloon payments, adjustable rate mortgages, and other technically complex packages resulted in higher overall rates that made it increasingly difficult to break the shackles of debt.
This story continued. Regulations that protected our rights were demolished. New wars erupted. Family businesses were wiped out by the unfair practices of huge chains. The media was commandeered by a handful of giant conglomerates.  Unemployment, poverty and foreclosures escalated. The upward trend line of a growing and prospering middle class plummeted.
We the people fell into a trance of lethargy.
Until now!
We have finally realized that we are serfs  of a system that reflects the feudal Middle Ages. Modern-day lords of the castle, the corporatocracy had convinced us – we who live outside the walls and supply all the food and conveniences for them – that if we didn’t pay our “debts” and service their every desire we would be raped and pillaged by soldiers from neighboring castles. But we are no longer buying their lies. 
Across this planet, we have marched into the courtyards of those castles with the message that we are no longer blind. We will not be hoodwinked by their false promises or by their fear tactics. The Occupy movement spans seven continents. Participation expands at seemingly exponential rates, online as well as at the front lines. It is the largest mass protest since those against the Vietnam War – and may well turn into the largest in human history.
Those at Wall St. and in the financial and political system who operate above the law without remorse or penalty and have believed for a long time that workers saddled with debt will not strike, quit, or demand justice, are hearing our message.
There are those among us who express skepticism. They say nothing will come of this. They are wrong. The Occupy movement has already changed the world and we must continue forward. With the recent arrests and uptake of policing these events, we must pay attention that our democracy and free speech is at threat.
The corporatoctacy are striking back. They are writing new laws forbidding us to assemble in places like Wall Street. They are attempting to censor the Internet (as they did in Egypt). They will come up with schemes we can’t even imagine.
Each time they do this we must utilize their energy to inspire and empower us further.  Coming from a place where we know we are right, we will employ the aikido of love, compassion, and cooperation to keep expanding our energy, our resolve, and our creative responses.
At a time during the American Revolution, when things looked very dire, Tom Paine wrote:
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. . .A generous parent should say, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." . . . 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. . . By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue."
This is another of those times. Our souls are being tried. This is our opportunity to stand firm, to show our perseverance and fortitude. This is a time our children and grandchildren will sing about. Their ballads will praise us for bringing them the world we all deserve..
John Perkins
New York Times bestselling author

Please subscribe to my newsletter at .
Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets IMPLODED-and What We Need to Do to Remake Them is now available in paperback and I hope you’ll support its release - .

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Noam Chomsky Addresses Occupy Boston Protesters

Donate To CounterPunch

Annual Fundraising Appeal
CounterPunchers Here’s An Offer You Shouldn’t Refuse!
We’ve been telling you for a week that either we meet our fundraising goal of $75,000 over the next month or we’ll be forced to drastically curtail the operation of our website.
Many, but not nearly enough of you have rallied with donations. With three more weeks of our fundraiser to go, we’re still far from our target. But now a CounterPuncher has stepped forward to renew and raise a magnificently generous pledge he made last year.
This CounterPunch supporter will now match every donation of $100 or more, to a combined total of $25,000. That means that any of you out there  thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100.  And if you plan to send us  $200 or $500 or more, he will give CounterPunch a matching $200 or $500 or more. 
So now it’s your turn. Double your clout right now.  Step up to the plate, and reach for the phone, or your check book or hit the online donation button.
Many websites on the progressive side of the spectrum are cut-and-paste affairs, a mix of columns culled from mainstream newspapers, weeklies, blogs and so forth. Every day our CounterPunch site offers you up to a dozen original articles, and often twenty across our three-day weekend site.
We’ve been asking some of our readers and writers for our website to say why they value CounterPunch. Here’s what NOAM CHOMSKY  wrote us:
 “It is, regrettably, no exaggeration to say that we are living in an era of irrationality, deception, confusion, anger, and unfocused fear — an ominous combination, with few precedents.  There has never been a time when it was so important to have a voice of sanity, insight, understanding of what is happening in the world.  Counterpunch has performed that essential service with unusual success.  It is a matter of paramount importance to ensure that it will continue to do so, with even greater resources than before.”
“A roaring colosseum of commentary, columnists and tell-it-like-it-was,-is,-and-should be original reportage, complete with a bookstore whose readable volumes tear away the lies, evasions, cover-ups and myths of a censored world. Taste, digest and deepen your mind from this fresh cornucopia called CounterPunch.”
“CounterPunch is a first class site with a first class audience. Cockburn and St Clair assemble menus that offer to readers interesting perspectives and factual analyses that are essential to navigating our chaotic times.  I always read the CounterPunch page”
Unlike many other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. But when we ask, we mean it. We ask for your support. We offer in return our independence, our unique position and our editorial choices.
Please, use our secure server make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription and a gift sub for someone or one of our award winning books (or a crate of books!) as holiday presents. (We won’t call you to shake you down or sell your name to any lists.)
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you, from Alex, Jeffrey, Becky, Alya, Deva, Kimberly, Nat and Marc
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558


U.S. EPA Will Not Release Hazardous Ratings for Pompton Lakes and Other Sites
Washington, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is wrongfully withholding hazardous ratings it has conducted at toxic sites throughout New Jersey, according to a federal lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  The ratings gauge the sites’ level of toxicity, human exposure and contamination pathways through air, soil and water.

The suit filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia arose out of EPA’s failure to disclose its Hazardous Rating System scores for one of New Jersey’s most troubled toxic sites – the old E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Company armament factory at Pompton Lakes.  The agency has rebuffed past requests for these scores based upon a 1991 internal directive.  According to EPA, these ratings both factor into whether to list a site under Superfund, which confers a higher clean-up priority, more funding options and citizen oversight, and also on how best to address the relative risks posed at each site.

PEER has asked for these hazardous rating scores for not only Pompton Lakes but for all other New Jersey sites not listed as national Superfund cleanup sites – a list of approximately 70 of the most contaminated locations in the state.  EPA sat on the request past the deadline mandated in the Freedom of Information Act, which serves as the basis for the PEER suit.

“By failing to disclose these hazardous ratings, EPA keeps the public in the dark about risks in their communities and frustrates their efforts to hold polluters and government accountable,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe.  “People should be alerted about vapor intrusion into their homes.  Keeping these scores secret makes EPA part of the problem and impedes a solution by shielding industrial polluters from public oversight from affected communities and the media.”
Article From:

New Jersey has the most Superfund sites in the country (144) but could have even more if the Hazardous Rating System scores were the dispositive benchmarks for Superfund listing.  Many sites in New Jersey pose risks equal to or greater than Superfund-listed sites, yet these uncontrolled sites (such as Pompton Lakes, where clean-up has stumbled along for more than 20 years) remain in regulatory limbo.  Publication of all Hazardous Ranking System scores would enable apples-to-apples comparisons which, in turn, would help prioritize sites for clean-up and target responsible parties.

“EPA has taken the stance that these Hazardous System Rating scores do not have to be disclosed on the grounds that they constitute ‘pre-decisional’ policy recommendations.  Yet, numbers are not policy recommendations – they are factual statements which are considered public records under the Freedom of Information Act,” said PEER Counsel Kathryn Douglass who drafted the complaint.  “Moreover, we are well beyond the pre-decisional stage as EPA long ago made the decision to let these sites languish.”

The U.S. Justice Department, representing EPA, has 30 days to file an answer to the PEER suit.

“The Obama administration said it was going to be transparent,” Wolfe added. “Here is an opportunity to reverse a 20-year secrecy policy so that communities can see what EPA knows about toxic conditions in our own backyards.”