Talk Nation Radio: Jay James on an alternative to prison for addicts

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-jay-james-on-an-alternative-to-prison-for-addicts

Jay James is the assistant director of Bridge Ministry. We discuss an alternative to incarceration.
 
 
Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Talk Nation Radio: Tressie McMillan Cottom on For-Profit Colleges and the Society That Produces Them

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-tressie-mcmillan-cottom-on-for-profit-colleges-and-the-society-that-produces-them

Tressie McMillan Cottom is the author of Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy. We discuss her book.

See:
http://thenewpress.com/books/lower-ed

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Talk Nation Radio: John Burroughs on Using Law Against Climate and Nuclear Dangers

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-john-burroughs-on-using-law-against-climate-and-nuclear-dangers

John Burroughs is Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy (www.lcnp.org), based in New York City. He represents LCNP in Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review proceedings, the United Nations, and other international forums. He was a member of the Marshall Islands international legal team in its nuclear disarmament cases in the International Court of Justice. He’s the author of numerous publications related to nuclear weapons including contributing to a report called The Climate-Nuclear Nexus, which we discuss.

Burrough’s publications include: contributor, Unspeakable suffering – the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons (2013) (available here); contributor, Assuring Destruction Forever: Nuclear Weapon Modernization Around the World (2012) (available here); author, The Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons: A Guide to the Historic Opinion of the International Court of Justice (1998). He has also published articles and op-eds in journals and newspapers including Fordham International Law Journal, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Arms Control Today, the World Policy Journal, and Newsday. He has taught international law as an adjunct professor at Rutgers Law School, Newark.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Talk Nation Radio: U.S. Mass Incarceration, Police Militarization, and Crimes Against Palestinians

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-us-mass-incarceration-police-militarization-and-crimes-against-palestinians

Two guests this week: Jeff Fogel and Ntebo Mokuena.

 

Jeff Fogel is a candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney here in Charlottesville, Virginia. After graduating from Rutgers School of Law in 1969, Jeff received a fellowship to work providing legal services to indigent residents in Newark, New Jersey.  After several years, he left that position to become a highly touted criminal defense lawyer.  Recognizing that he was limited in impact by representing one criminal defendant at a time, Jeff moved into a civil rights practice with the hope of having an impact on the criminal justice system while preserving the constitutional rights of everyone.  Jeff has practiced in NJ, NY, PR and, for the last 10 years, Virginia. He has been the executive and legal director of the ACLU of New Jersey and the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights while teaching civil rights, civil liberties and trial practice at Rutgers and NYU School of Law. See http://fogelforcca.us

 

 

Ntebo Mokuena is a senior at American University and is majoring in Political Science with a gender, race,  and politics concentration along with a minor in Art History and a certificate in Women, Policy, and Political Leadership. She was born and raised in the DC area and on campus is involved with Students for Justice in Palestine, which is a decentralized student group that supports the BDS movement and self determination of Palestinians. The group is part of the Community Action and Social Justice coalition. See https://m.facebook.com/AmericanSJP/

 

Useful links with regards to Israel-U.S. police exchange programs:

http://mondoweiss.net/2016/01/enforcement-training-terrorism

https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/report-israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/

http://blog.amnestyusa.org/middle-east/with-whom-are-many-u-s-police-departments-training-with-a-chronic-human-rights-violator-israel/

https://electronicintifada.net/content/police-training-programs-twin-us-israeli-racism/9834

https://www.kravmaga.com/programs/law-enforcement-military/force-training-division-law-enforcement

 

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Yes, Positivity, Pangloss, Partisanship, Propaganda, and Populism

Eight years ago Yes! Magazine published a political platform of progressive policies, along with polling showing strong majority support for each proposal. Now, eight years later, we can show almost total failure to advance any of the proposals, most of which were focused on the U.S. federal government.

Where there have been any small successes, they have mostly come at the state or local level or outside the United States. New York State just took a step toward free college and Washington State toward shutting down fossil fuels while everyone was watching Donald Trump’s twitter feed. Most of the world’s nations are working on a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons from the earth, while Obama’s government has invested heavily in new nukes and (far more offensively, I’m told) Trump has tweeted about them.

The general federal-level failure in the United States is very clearly because the U.S. government in Washington D.C. is a financially corrupted and anti-democratic structure, and because the U.S. public is generally disinclined to hold it accountable. The United States enjoys remarkably less activism than many other countries, and suffers as a result.

A huge reason for the activism shortage is partisan loyalty. Of that minority of people who will do anything at all, many will only make demands of or protest members of one political party. For the other party all is forgiven. And most policy positions are utterly expendable at the slightest shift in the party line. Witness the current Democratic fever for believing the CIA on faith and desiring hostility toward Russia.

This partisanship masks the steady destruction of each area in that Yes! platform as it progresses unperturbed through presidencies of both parties alike.

Putting forth a positive program and pushing for it is exactly the right thing to do, and not for simplistic or mystical, but for very practical reasons. And informing each other that we are a secret majority is exactly right as well. But there is always a danger of Panglossian distortion in an attitude of positivity. The fact that someone can start an organic urban garden should not actually blind us to the fact that the taxes paid on the garden’s income will go toward preparing for wars, destroying the earth’s climate, imprisoning the garden’s neighbors, poisoning the garden’s water, and forbidding any honest definition of what “organic” means.

So it was with both eagerness and trepidation that I picked up the new book, The Revolution Where You Live, by the Cofounder of Yes! Magazine Sarah Van Gelder. It’s a book about local activism that doesn’t try to spin away the general context of growing apocalypse, but tries to find models for duplication and expansion. Some of the stories are familiar or from decades gone by when we know there was greater activism afoot. But some are neither familiar nor old. These tales of local organizing succeeding against economic, environmental, and racist evils should be far more present in our minds than some silly hope that Hillary Clinton be subtly impolite while celebrating with Trump at his inauguration.

These accounts collectively also seem to point to the critical importance of investing in local banks and divesting from evil corporations. This focus should be useful to activists in all fields.

Any Panglossianism in Van Gelder’s book is by omission and not unique to her but nearly universal. I refer of course to the fact that she has written about touring localities in the world’s war machine without ever mentioning it. Even in an account of admirable efforts to improve the treatment of refugees, there is no mention of how they became refugees. Van Gelder, like virtually all liberals in the United States sincerely and rightly laments the hoarding of wealth by the super rich and the subsidies given to destructive (non-war) industries, without ever remarking that all that hoarding is simply dwarfed by public spending on a program of mass murder that makes enemies of 96% of humanity — a program the likes of which has never been seen in any other time or place.

I don’t think local activism can succeed unless it impacts international and national policy, and in large part its activists don’t even intend to do that. Many have declared opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline an unqualified success as long as the earth-destroying monster is run through someone else’s backyard. Van Gelder asks a local activist what world she envisions, and she says she’s already in it — a testimony to the life-fulfilling nature of activism but also to the propaganda that has so many Americans convinced the status quo is not a fast train to catastrophe. Van Gelder asks another woman doing great work where power comes from, and she replies “It’s when your head, your heart, and your hands are aligned.”

That’s not false, but it’s lacking something. We could have thousands of people with their heads, hearts, and hands aligned and still destroy the climate, launch the nukes, or establish a fascist state. Power, I would say, comes from mobilizing enough people to take the right actions for change, inspiring others to help while dissuading those who would resist. I think local activism is far more a place to start than is generally imagined. I think elections, especially federal elections, have become largely a distraction. I think partisanship and the propaganda of corporate media are powerful poison. But I think viewing local or personal satisfaction as sufficient will be fatal. We need local and global action that understands itself as such. Or we need close collaboration between those who want to stop one pipeline and those who want to stop them all.

We also need to take advantage of new activism that will come from those who will, come January 20th, suddenly object to all sorts of horrible policies they’ve accepted amicably for the past eight years. But we need to nudge such people into a principled nonpartisan frame of reference that will allow their activism to last and succeed.

We should also be looking for ways to empower states and localities, including through secession, and through global activist alliances.

The hopeless wreck of a U.S. government infects the United Nations, of course, through its veto power and permanent membership on the “Security” Council. A reformed global body would undercut the power of its worst abusers, rather than empowering them above all others. In a preferable design, I think, nations with under 100 million population (roughly 187 nations) would have 1 representative per nation. Nations with over 100 million population (currently 13) would have 0 representatives per nation. But each province/state/region in those nations would have 1 representative answering only to that province/state/region.

This body would make decisions by majority vote and have the power to create chairs and committees, hire staff, and by three-quarters majority reshape its own constitution. That constitution would forbid war and participation in the production, possession, or trading of weapons of war. It would commit all members to assisting each other in making the transition to peaceful enterprises. The structure would also forbid violations of the rights of the environment and of future generations, and commit all members to collaborating on environmental protection, poverty reduction, population growth control, and aid to refugees.

This more-useful body for planetary preservation would facilitate education and cultural exchange programs, as well as the training and deployment of unarmed civilian peace workers. It would not create or collaborate with any armed forces, but would apply the rule of law equally and advance restorative justice through mediation and truth-and-reconciliation.

Any member or group of members would have the right to compel a vote on whether to create on a planetary scale any program that the member had itself created and shown capable of advancing disarmament, environmental protection, poverty reduction, population growth control, or assistance to those in need. Other members would be permitted to vote no only if they could establish that such a program had not worked in the province or country proposing it or could not work elsewhere.

Members would each choose their representative to a two-year term through clean, transparent, nonpartisan, and exclusively publicly funded elections open to all adults, verified by the public hand-counting of paper ballots at each polling place, including ranked-choice voting, and including on the ballot and in any debates all candidates qualified by the collection of the signatures of 1% of constituents.

All major meetings and proceedings would be live streamed and archived as video available online, and all votes be recorded votes. Member dues would be assessed based on ability to pay, with deductions for members’ success in meeting the goals of lower military spending (including through a member’s taxes to the nation it is part of), lower carbon emissions, greater equality of wealth, and greater aid to poorer members.

I’d like to see polling, even in the U.S. and other large nations, on public support for that sort of positive proposal.

Talk Nation Radio: Vincent Emanuele on Wars for Oil Companies; Robert Alvarez on Department of Energy for Nuclear Weapons

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-vincent-emanuele-on-wars-for-oil-robert-alvarez-on-dept-of-energy-for-nukes

Vincent Emanuele joined the United States Marine Corps as a squad automatic machine gunner in 2002. After two combat-deployments in Iraq, he refused orders for a third and immediately began organizing with Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

In 2008, Vince testified to Congress at the Winter Soldier Hearings on Capitol Hill, where he provided detailed accounts of war crimes, atrocities, drug abuse and sexual assault within the military.

See https://www.facebook.com/vincentjr.emanuele

Emanuele is just back from Standing Rock and discusses environmental and antiwar strategy. This show contains the second half of a discussion begun last week.

Robert Alvarez is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C. and an Adjunct Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Strategic International Studies. He is considered one of the nation’s preeminent experts on civilian and military nuclear programs.

Between 1993 and 1999, Mr. Alvarez served as Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

Between 1988 and 1993, Mr. Alvarez served on the Majority Staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, chaired by Senator John Glenn (D-OH).

His work has appeared in Ambio, Science and Global Security, Science, the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Issues in Science and Technology (the magazine of the National Academy of Sciences), the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Technology Review, the Washington Post, the Nation, the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post and other publications. Mr. Alvarez won the John Barlow Martin Award for Public Interest Journalism and has been featured on CBS “60 minutes,” the PBS NOVA show, NPR’s All Things Considered, the New York Times, and several documentary films.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Black and Foreign Lives Matter: Ending Gun Violence Requires Ending War

Happy Human Rights Day, and what ever happened to the right to life?

We need to stop imagining that when wars come home to the land of their creators that the suffering created is something separate from war. And we need to stop imagining that racist cruelty at home doesn’t fuel the distant wars.

Imagine a country in which people condemn gun violence and police violence while actively pushing for a new cold war with Russia or urging the bombing of Syria or cheering a string of drone murders and tolerating the expansion of the U.S. military presence to darn near the whole globe. Or a peace movement that condemns foreign drone murders while failing to focus on the higher number of murders creating by U.S. police officers.

Weapons dealing is an integrated global enterprise that feeds on racist, bigoted, violent, and macho ideologies wherever it can find them. Trying to defeat it with separate anti-gun and anti-war movements not united in their work won’t succeed. Most of the guns are sold abroad, many of them deployed against U.S. fighters in the wars. Many gun owners’ fantasies are closely related to war.

When local police are given weapons by the U.S. military and training by the militaries of the United States and other nations, and when they employ veterans of the military, which employs veterans of the police and prison industries in turn, demanding that the warlike behavior that results on our streets and in our homes be restricted to foreign wars will not work, not practically and not morally. It makes as much sense as a protester asking that an oil pipeline be rerouted somewhere else. The damage to the earth will still be done, no matter the route. Donald Trump says he’ll have less war but more military spending. That’s like having more ice cream to lose weight.

When Dr. King said the bombs in Vietnam explode at home he was right in several different ways. The Black Lives Matter Platform asks for reparations at home but also to nations bombed abroad, as well as a 50% cut to U.S. military spending. This is because warlike policing and global-policeman warring are symptoms of the same disease. Military spending strips wealth from people at home and destroys the wealth of those it bombs and shoots at. Military spending eliminates, rather than producing, jobs. And it thrives on the same racist and violent thinking that sells guns and creates police violence. The National Rifle Association made a video with Charlie Daniels urging war on Iran, in order to sell guns to people who want nothing to do with participating in that war.

Millions of Americans for whom Charlie Daniels is not a smart marketing scheme are subjected to the Pentagon’s $600,000,000 annual advertising. Some of the regions and neighborhoods most impacted by domestic violence are also those hardest hit by military recruiting. This helps build the sort of thinking that says no to weapons on local streets but yes to the militarism that puts them there. Colin Kaepernick’s admirable protest of racist violence is damaged by his assurance that he supports militarism.

It is during periods of heavy warmaking that U.S. entertainment fills up with dramas justifying the murder of dark-skinned people or zombies or wizards, subhuman creatures, or bugsplat in the slang of the drone murderers. When it is acceptable for a liberal African-American Nobel Peace laureate to bomb 8 largely dark-skinned and Muslim nations, it is inevitable that some observers begin to question whether there is anything wrong with their own dark-skinned or Muslim neighbors. To challenge racism we have to be willing to challenge the idea that it’s acceptable to bomb some types of people.

I don’t recommend burning flags. I recommend refusing to worship them, refusing to compel children to robotically recite pledges of flag worship, and waiving global flags instead.

As long as we have wars and police, we should separate them, but the stronger each is the more they will merge. Border policing is on the metaphorical border between policing and war. War training for police blurs the distinction. The President’s pretenses that drone murders are a sort of law enforcement blurs the line. The anti-Russia committee created by the new so-called Intelligence Authorization Act is both policing and war — and propaganda for both.

We should deny war weaponry to police. We’ve made some small gains on that through President Obama. Congressman Hank Johnson’s bill would go further. We should ban exploding robots like that used by police to kill a man in Dallas, Texas. We should ban weaponized drones. We should ban military training for police. These are projects we can take on at the national, local, college campus, or global level. At RootsAction.org we have related petitions.

Wars come home and travel abroad through the erosion of rights. The powers to spy on and kidnap and imprison and torture and murder distant foreigners quickly become the powers to do those things to anyone back home. The power to torture prisoners in the United States quickly becomes the power to torture prisoners (and kidnap victims) of war.

Parts of “at home” have more in common with parts of “abroad” than with other parts of “at home.” Guns and other weapons are dealt by the weapons dealers to poor regions of the United States as to poor nations of the world. The wealthy handful of big warmaking nations make almost all the weapons and then push them on the world’s poor like alcohol or smallpox in the original “Indian Country,” or like opium in China. Since 2001 the sale of “small arms” has tripled. Unsurprisingly, deaths from small arms have approximately tripled as well. Arming terrorist groups against each other has proven as counter-productive yet profitable as permitting guns in churches, guns in bars, guns in classrooms, guns in shopping malls.

Teachers in some U.S. cities and states may try to teach against violence, but their public pension plans are heavily invested in weapons dealers. Their retirement is tied up with the promotion of war and violence. This we can end through campaigns to compel divestment — campaigns that also serve an educational and political purpose.

In the United States, approximately 1 of 40 adults is in prison, jail, parole, or probation (along with 1 of every 1,200 children being locked up). And 1 out of every 102 adults is in the military — not counting private mercenaries, contractors, subcontractors, etc. Of course virtually all U.S. children are exposed to the promotion of militarism. This normalization of violence makes opposition to violence of all sorts more difficult.

I’m convinced that primarily what is new about racist police violence is the videotaping, not the violence. But secondarily we are seeing organized and armed and equipped police violence that newly treats its own actions like war and speaks about what it is doing as war.

Someone told me this year that I should support a certain political candidate because she was not an overt racist. I have yet to see a major movement in the United States against the expansion of Africom — of U.S. bases and weapons and proxy armies across Africa. Without minimizing the horror of overt racism, should covert racism be good enough? Can we move forward at all while accepting it? And isn’t it possible that a silver lining in the dropping of the pretense of humanitarian war, in the blurting out of “steal their oil” and “kill their families” and other assorted snippets of honesty, could be an increased resistance to state violence at home and abroad?

I think the model of presidential drone murders, of a “law enforcement” officer going through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays and picking whom to have bumped off, has been disastrous for policing. But the big question now is whether, having accepted or avoided knowing about that for years, will people go on accepting it while it bears a more odious face, or will the new face allow people to get belatedly outraged?

I think we need to do more thinking locally and acting globally, which is what we try to do at World Beyond War.

I think we need to point out to people that the most powerful tools contain no bullets, that an armed resistance at Standing Rock would have long since failed.

And I think we need to inform people that for the price of some relatively small cuts in military spending we could demilitarize the police, fund schools, houses, clean energy, and healthcare at home and abroad, end hunger on earth, end the lack of clean drinking water on earth, and make the United States government loved rather than resented around the world and around the United States.

Virginia's Constitution Needs Improving

Virginia’s Constitution is three times as long as the U.S. Constitution (which is notably lacking any serious sections on oyster beds). Virginia’s Constitution has also been updated at least three times as much as the U.S. Constitution. But it is now long overdue.

The U.S. Constitution has been updated with 27 amendments and 0 serious revisions through conventions. Virginia’s Constitution has been amended many times including through five Constitutional conventions, held in 1830, 1851, 1864, 1870, and 1902. From 1776 to 1902 that’s one convention every 25 years. Now there hasn’t been one for 114 years.

I don’t want to revise the Virginia Constitution just for the heck of it, but because it is badly needed. There is much in the Virginia Constitution that needn’t be there at all, but that can be to our advantage if it facilitates opening the whole thing to desirable improvements. Some improvements are desirable because of the failure of the federal government to make them.

I wrote to my state legislators and governor asking that Virginia make voter registration automatic, the way some states have done. I was told that in Virginia this would require amending the Constitution. Unlike many other states, Virginia details voter registration processes in its Constitution. (One hopes it’s unnecessary to recall the ugly reasons why.) I’d amend the Constitution to make voter registration automatic, to delete the disenfranchisement of felons, and to delete the language permitting the creation of literacy tests for voting.

I’d delete a lot else that need not be enshrined in a Constitution, but I’d also add a lot that’s missing on the topic of voting rights and in many other areas.

Some general updates are obvious and easy: Add several missing categories to the forbidden reasons for discrimination (or take out the existing list and ban all discrimination). Change “men” to “people.” Delete the section creating marriage bigotry. Delete all promotion of religion from various sections including the section supposedly banning the establishment of religion.

But major revisions are in order as well. Look at this list of protected rights: “enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

Virginia executes people. One in 46 adults in Virginia is in prison, jail, parole, or probation. So much for life and liberty. Many Virginians have little or no means of acquiring and possessing property. And it’s hard to say we can obtain happiness and safety with environmental damage and danger as well as gun violence escalating. These existing elements of the Constitution need enactment and enforcement. Or they need stricter commitment in a revised Constitution. Similarly, the ban on standing armies isn’t sufficient to prevent the existence of the Virginia National Guard, and the ban on taking private property without compensation isn’t protecting anyone from oil pipelines or climate destruction or rising sea level.

But mostly the problem is the rights that are missing entirely or vaguely stated later in the Constitution. The U.S. approach of providing a safety net to the least well off simply is not working. The least well off don’t have political power. What works in other countries is to provide benefits to everyone, which almost everyone then supports. We need the right to a free top-quality education free of for-profit corruption and ridiculous tests from preschool through college. We need the right to free, bureaucracy-free, insurance-company-free, preventive universal single-payer healthcare. We need the right to a basic income for all. We need the right to a healthy and sustainable environment. The environment needs the right to health and sustainability. (Yes, giving rights to the environment makes at least as much sense as giving them to corporations — which should be explicitly barred — and is being done in modern Constitutions.)

The Virginia Constitution now reads: “Further, it shall be the Commonwealth’s policy to protect its atmosphere, lands, and waters from pollution, impairment, or destruction, for the benefit, enjoyment, and general welfare of the people of the Commonwealth.” But, of course, it is not the Commonwealth’s policy to do any such thing. This has to be made enforceable. Or it has to be enforced.

While the United States is the one nation on earth that has not joined the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Virginia should include the content of that treaty in its Constitution. It should do the same with the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It should also join the world in banning land mines, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, and nuclear weapons, and in establishing rights of migrant workers.

The section of the Virginia Constitution on the rights of the accused needs updating. There should be a right to videotape of all interrogations. There should be a right to competent legal representation. There should be a right not to be killed. There should be a ban on militarizing police and on the use of weaponized drones, as well as on the use in court of any evidence obtained by surveillance drones.

When it comes to election reforms, I would propose something like this:

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be protected free speech.

All elections for Governor and members of the Senate and General Assembly shall be entirely publicly financed. No political contributions shall be permitted to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. No political expenditures shall be permitted in support of any candidate, or in opposition to any candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. The legislature shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds and provide criminal penalties for any violation of this section.

State and local governments shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for state or local public office or any state or local ballot measure.

Citizens will be automatically registered to vote upon reaching the age of 18 or upon becoming citizens at an age above 18, and the right to vote shall not be taken away from them.

Votes shall be recorded on paper ballots, which shall be publicly counted at the polling place and reported to a central counting location, with the process repeated as many times as required to allow voters to make use of ranked-choice (instant runoff) voting.

Election day shall be a state holiday.

During a designated campaign period of no longer than six months, free air time shall be provided in equal measure to all candidates for state office on state or local television and radio stations, provided that each candidate has, during the previous year, received the supporting signatures of at least five percent of their potential voting-age constituents.

The same supporting signatures shall also place the candidate’s name on the ballot and require their invitation to participate in any public debate among the candidates for the same office.

The Virginia Constitution now states: “That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people, that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.”

I would give this concrete form in a right to create and vote on public initiatives to determine state policy, including the creation of Constitutional conventions and amendments.

Talk Nation Radio: George Lakey on Viking Economics

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-george-lakey-on-viking-economics

George Lakey recently retired from Swarthmore College where he was Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues in Social Change and managed the Global Nonviolent Action Database research project. His first arrest was for a civil rights sit-in. He has served as an unarmed bodyguard for human rights defenders in Sri Lanka. Lakey has led over 1500 social change workshops on five continents, and founded and for fifteen years directed Training for Change. In 2010 he was named “Peace Educator of the Year” and published his authoritative text on adult education, Facilitating Group Learning. We discuss his ninth book, Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got it Right — and How We Can Too.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Born on Home Plate

Remember the satirical “Billionaires for Bush” protesters? Around this time in 2008 I asked them to become Oligarchs for Obama, and they refused. But I predict Tycoons for Trump will be born this month. Inequality, like war and climate destruction, has its face now.

Chuck Collins’ book, Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good, presents the problem of inequality as well as any I’ve seen. Collins was born into wealth, gave it away, but still refers to himself as one of the wealthy, perhaps because of all the lasting privileges wealth brought him. Collins sites other examples, as well, of the wealthy putting their wealth to better use than hoarding.

Collins explains how a lot of philanthropy is, however, counterproductive, benefitting those least in need of it. He argues for a popular movement to create progressive taxation and progressive restraints on income. But he also makes a case for appealing to one percenters for solidarity, rather than demonizing them — apparently because this has proven to work better but also because it’s too late for anything else. Wealth has been so concentrated that without defections at the top it will never be truly shared again.

Collins also makes the best case I’ve seen for reparations. Donald Trump’s money, Collins writes, came from his father, who sold homes to white people who could only buy them because of government subsidized mortgages. Trump’s father also got military contracts to build houses for sailors. What Collins calls the Greatest Subsidized Generation (post World War II) — or at least the white portion of it — benefitted widely from subsidized mortgages and insurance, free college, and grants and loans from the Small Business Administration. Imagining that the racism of the day, rather than these willfully forgotten government programs, made America “great” (for some) is nonsensical.

Collins makes the case that the median wealth of white households is 13 times that of blacks in large part because of massive privileges handed to whites over the decades, including not so many years ago. And now the United States is becoming a caste society with extremely low economic mobility, and those castes parallel racial divides created by the benefits of government created wealth.

Collins paints a powerful portrait of how a wealthy childhood gives a person a permanent advantage. And he conveys the radically different, more convenient, more worry-free lives of those in the United States with great wealth. He later comes around to noting that many of those advantages are widely enjoyed in Europe. Collins argues that the wealthy are not fundamentally different from the rest of us, but his facts suggest that in fact they are. And the book’s foreword by Morris Pearl suggests to me a perspective I find it difficult to relate to. Pearl writes:

“I read about the Occupy movement in Zuccotti Park in the newspaper from the comfort of my Park Avenue apartment. When I have wanted to complain about something to President Obama, I have arranged to do it face-to-face.”

This suggests that there have been days on which Pearl did not want to complain about anything. Of course I can imagine meeting with Obama, but I can’t imagine only occasionally wanting to.

I also have a hard time relating to the phenomenon of the Missing Military as it exists in Collins’ and virtually every other liberal book published in the United States. Collins laments that $200 billion per year may be lost to the super wealthy hiding their wealth in tax havens. Collins never mentions the $1 trillion per year wasted on the murderous enterprise of militarism. In his to-do list at the end of the book, he has no mention of opposing militarism, but one of his items for us to do is to pay our taxes (because of all the good that supposedly comes of doing so).

There are some things, Martin Luther King Jr. said, to which we should not wish to become well adjusted. I include in that list all discussions of U.S. economics that erase the military.