Okay, I’m just putting this out there. Why does anyone need millions of dollars a year to survive? I mean, seriously. It’s quite obvious that it’s not necessary. The vast majority of us get by on a mere fraction of that. If Jeff Bezos lost a billion dollars tomorrow, he wouldn’t even feel it. But society would certainly benefit from that billion dollars.
Asking for an increase in the minimum wage in this country always seems to spark great controversy, even though, on the all-too-rare occasion when it happens, not only does the world not come to an end, but it causes the economy to thrive. It’s blatantly obvious that we all do better when money is more widely distributed.
So maybe we should focus more on the opposite end of the spectrum. I truly believe that there should be a maximum wage. Most obscenely rich Americans could easily maintain their lifestyles even if their income was limited to, say, 750k a year. All the rest of their profits could prop up social service agencies, education, infrastructure, health care, and yes, dammit, an increase in the minimum wage.
The fact that this idea seems so radical, the fact that it causes this reflexive flinch in the very gut of most Americans, is a clear indicator that we’ve been well trained. Even worse, this idea will never flourish because money is power, and we allow ourselves to be ruled by it. Literally.
We make it so politicians have to be rich to get elected. We make it so they are supported by the ultra rich. Even if we tried to implement a maximum wage plan, the rich would find a loophole. We have no power ourselves, and yet we’re the ones who prop up this system. We are treating ourselves as if we’re the enemy. This insanity has got to stop.
There is no reason on earth that any American should be homeless or hungry. There is no reason a child should go without shoes. There’s no reason why anyone should be deprived of health care.
By not supporting those in need, we are supporting the very people who don’t need support and never have. We shouldn’t be here. It’s obscene. And yet, here we are.
My whole life, I’ve been taught that Quaker’s were at the forefront of the abolitionist movement. Movies about the Underground Railroad almost always include a Friend or two. Quakers often hid runaway slaves in their homes. These things are true. And yet, if you dig deeper, you find that their history has been rather whitewashed over time.
You can find the typical story line on the brynmawr.edu website:
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) was the first corporate body in Britain and North America to fully condemn slavery as both ethically and religiously wrong in all circumstances. It is in Quaker records that we have some of the earliest manifestations of anti-slavery sentiment, dating from the 1600s. After the 1750s, Quakers actively engaged in attempting to sway public opinion in Britain and America against the slave trade and slavery in general. At the same time, Quakers became actively involved in the economic, educational and political well being of the formerly enslaved.
The earliest anti-slavery organizations in America and Britain consisted primarily of members of the Society of Friends. Thus much of the record of the development of anti-slavery thought and actions is embedded in Quaker-produced records and documents. Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College and the Quaker Collection at Haverford College are jointly the custodians of Quaker meeting records of the Mid-Atlantic region, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, New York and Vermont and these records illuminate the origins of the anti-slavery movement as well as the continued Quaker involvement, often behind the scenes, in the leadership and direction of the abolitionist movement from the 1770s to the abolition of slavery in the United States in 1865, and beyond.
It seems this radical Quaker lived in a cave in Pennsylvania, and was a bit of a thorn in the side of his fellow Quakers. According to the article,
One Sunday, 18th-century Quakers living in Abington, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, were met with a strange sight outside their morning meeting. The snow lay thick on the ground and there was Benjamin Lay, a member of the congregation, wearing little clothing, with his “right leg and foot uncovered,” almost knee-deep in the snow. When one Quaker after the next told him that he would get sick or that he should get inside and cover up, he turned to them. “Ah,” he said, “you pretend compassion for me, but you do not feel for the poor slaves in your fields, who go all winter half-clad.”
Wait a minute. “The poor slaves in your fields?” But, um… they’re Quakers, right?
But it turns out that the Quakers only started muttering about slavery in the 1750’s, didn’t really start a true abolitionist movement until the 1770’s, and all Quakers weren’t really on the same page until the 1830’s. And yet this little guy, Benjamin Lay, was doing his radical protest thing in the 1730’s. Go, Benjamin!
Before he acted up in Pennsylvania, he had lived in a Quaker community in Barbados, where 90 percent of the people were enslaved and treated worse than horses. His protests there got him ejected from the community.
In 1737 Benjamin Franklin published Lay’s tract entitled, All Slaveholders That Keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates. (Good old Franklin didn’t have the courage to include his name as publisher, though. He was a slave owner himself, and profited from running ads in his gazette about runaway slaves. He only became an ardent abolitionist just prior to his death.)
Basically, Benjamin Lay was one of Quaker’s first truly dedicated abolitionists, and you don’t often hear anything about him because to admit he existed is to admit that many Quakers were slave owners, and given that they finally and quite outspokenly got on the right side of history, admitting to their slave owning past is, at best, awkward.
I had to learn more about Quakers and slavery, but it wasn’t easy. I waded through a ton of articles that touted the party line, but then I came across this one entitled Slavery in the Quaker World by Katharine Gerbner.
In it, Gerbner states that the earliest abolitionist Quaker article, called the Germantown Protest, is from 1688. It denounces slavery, but the majority of Quakers at the time rejected this article. In fact, many Quakers in the 17th century were involved in the slave trade. She further states that the Quakers of the time were all for converting slaves to Christianity, but that they felt slavery and Christianity were perfectly compatible, and that Christian slaves would work harder and be more docile.
All this information was rather eye opening for me. It just goes to show that nothing is ever as simple as it is described in elementary school history textbooks. I’ll never look at Quakers as pure abolitionist heroes again. Now I’ll see them as a flawed people who came to learn enough from their morally repugnant past to change and do the right thing.
And when all is said and done, shouldn’t that be what we all do?
There’s nothing quite like a complete nut job with a dedicated following to make you wonder how anyone can question our relationship to other primates. (Spoiler alert: I’m feeling rather inflammatory today.) Case in point: a complete psychopath named Lenka Koloma.
“After making herself a millionaire, healing herself of cancer, and a near death experience, Lenka learned to create healing miracles for herself and others. Let her help you transform your health, wealth & relationship issues into a life of unlimited abundance and happiness.”
She also claims to be an International Best Selling Author of a book called “Unleash the Supernatural”. As of this writing, it has an Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 1,609,092, so this author is looking at “best selling” through an extremely broad lens. But then, making false claims seems to be a recurring theme with Ms. Koloma.
Her Facebook page is all sizzle and no steak. She makes promises but doesn’t keep them. She claims to be a motivational speaker, but I got about 2 minutes into the 13 minute video she posted of herself and realized she was never going to get to the point. So I felt motivated to stop watching.
Incidentally, she made that video while driving. In Southern California. Which tells you all you need to know about how much she cares about the lives of her fellow human beings.
But if that isn’t enough to convince you of her irresponsibility, then hop on over to her website for her Freedom to Breathe Agency. (That is, if it’s still there. Several versions of this site have been taken down. I’m sure this one won’t last long either.)
The main takeaway from this site is that you should exercise your personal liberty, your freedom of speech, your freedom to choose, and your freedom to pursue happiness by refusing to wear a face mask.
The website, which is full of misspellings and awkward grammar, states:
OXYGEN IS No.1 NUTRIENT for every living organism including humans.
Wearing a face mask is an unhealthy obstruction of oxygen flow that can lead to hypoxemia (low oxygen level in the blood) and hypoxia (low oxygen level in the tissue). Both of these conditions are health threatening and can permanently damage the brain, lungs, heart and about any other organ.
Wearing a face mask has also very important effect on our psychology. It is a psychological anchor for suppression, enslavement and cognitive obedience. When you wear a mask you are complicit in declaring all humans as dangerous, infectious and threats. How long do you think it will be before your social engineers tell you that talking spreads the virus farther ….and they forbid talking?
How long before your human farmers trick you into believing that it is better you stop breathing altogether….as to stop the spread of a virus?
All sold as being for your health and safety. You are being conned and your compliance makes the con a reality.
REJECT THE MIND CONTROL AND UNSLAVE
It also provides you with a PDF file that allows you to print out a fraudulent card that claims to exempt you from any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public, claiming that this is an Americans with Disabilities Act violation. It also fraudulently uses the seal of the Department of Justice, and the ADA logo. Apparently this card has been quite popular of late.
But if you go to the ADA website, one of the first things you see is a disclaimer from the Department of Justice. It states:
The ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operations.
And, incidentally, “human farming” as mentioned above by Ms. Koloma is the most lunatic fringe theory that I’ve heard in many a year. The ultimate in paranoia is to imply that we’re all such slaves that we have been reduced to the level of livestock. Yes, the rich and powerful are taking advantage of us, but to imply that we are operating under a system of slavery as we order our pizzas and binge watch our Netflix is a tad extreme. And forbidding talking? Forbidding breathing? Yeah, that’ll happen.
So who are you going to believe? Some crackpot woman who is telling you what you’d love to believe, or the truth, from legitimate sources?
Well, here’s the bugaboo. We take our freedoms very seriously in this country. So seriously, in fact, that some people extend them to the freedom to be a complete jerk. Evidence the world over demonstrates that wearing a mask saves lives. Your freedom to not wear a mask should not impinge on my freedom to not freakin’ die.
If your lack of a mask only impacted you, I’d say have at it. We need fewer selfish people in the world. But you are part of a society, and your irresponsibility puts others in danger. It endangers your loved ones most of all. You have no right, none whatsoever, to endanger others.
Wearing a mask has nothing to do with politics. It’s just basic common sense. And it’s one of the responsibilities we have right now, in exchange for all the benefits we experience from living in a civilized, albeit overcrowded, society.
I suppose sticking your head up your butt is another way to protect the rest of us from you, but I think the mask option is a better one.
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A few nights ago, I was driving home from work at 11 pm. I was mildly irritated to discover that a long section of the interstate was closed for some unknown reason. I would have to spend a good portion of my 25 mile commute on surface streets. Ah well, there was nothing for it but to settle in and endure a great deal of zigging and zagging through Seattle. Thank heavens for Google Maps.
I was wending my way through downtown when I turned a corner into the intersection of Bellevue and Olive, and suddenly found myself right in the middle of a protest march. About 200 people swelled into the intersection and surrounded my car. I couldn’t move forward. I couldn’t move back. I was trapped.
It was a peaceful enough protest. They weren’t doing any damage, but they did look angry. They were carrying signs, mostly related to defunding the police, and they were shouting, “No Trump! No KKK! No racist USA!”
I believe wholeheartedly in every one of those statements. I genuinely do. But these protesters didn’t know that. What they saw was some random white woman. It would be easy to think I’m part of the problem. And in essence, I am, since I’ve unwittingly propped up the status quo for my entire life.
So there I was, trapped in my car, desperately hoping that this crowd wouldn’t see me as the enemy. If they did, there’s nothing I could have done about it. Every movie I’ve ever seen where a car is surrounded by a mob flashed through my mind. They could have easily trashed my car or rolled it over. I was completely at their mercy.
I did the only thing I could think of to do. I called my husband. As if he could save me, 25 miles away. But it was good to hear his voice. At least he’d know why I didn’t come home if the worst happened.
The traffic light cycled at least 5 times, but I was going nowhere. My heart was pounding. I felt like I was going to throw up.
And then I had an even worse thought. If the cops showed up right now, this would probably turn into a riot, and there’d be teargas and rubber bullets. And I would be trapped in the thick of it, with nowhere to go. Oh, God, please don’t let the cops come right now.
Yeah. Let that sink in for a bit. I was terrified that the cops were going to show up.
At one point, the crowd started marching down the street, away from my car, which, in fact, no one had touched. I heaved a huge, shaky sigh of relief and prepared to move forward, out of the traffic snarl. But then, inexplicably, they all rushed back into the intersection and engulfed my car again. I felt like crying. I just wanted to go home.
That crowd felt like one big, organic, unpredictable entity to me. I didn’t know what was going to happen. And then finally, just like the parting of the red sea, the crowd separated and let traffic flow again. The incident probably only lasted 10 minutes, but to me it felt like an eternity.
I headed home, feeling nauseous from the adrenaline dump. I fought back tears as I merged onto the interstate south of town. I felt like I had survived something that I never expected to encounter.
And then I realized that this is what it must feel like to be black a lot of the time. At the mercy of the majority. Trapped. Afraid that you’ll be seen as the enemy. Terrified that the cops will come. Surrounded by the unpredictable. Misunderstood.
That night, the universe forced me to take a big old draught of the medicine that is poured down the throats of black people every single day, and I didn’t like it. Not even a little bit. In fact, it made me feel sick.
But in terms of enlightenment, it probably did me good.
I actually wrote this post a few months ago. I keep putting off its posting, because it feels strange to bring up yet another important issue when we all have so many other things on our minds. But it’s beginning to weigh me down, having it sit there in queue, gathering dust. So here it is. I hope you can see through all our other stressors long enough to take it seriously. Thanks for reading. Stay safe.
It’s a long read, and a disturbing one. Here are just a few of the statistics it mentions.
Each one of us ingests nearly 2,000 particles of plastic a week, from tap water, food, and the air. That’s the equivalent of swallowing 1 credit card a week.
Worldwide, we use 1 million plastic bottles a minute and 500 billion plastic bags a year.
A dump truck load of plastic enters our oceans every minute.
Since 1950, the world has created 6.3 trillion kilograms of plastic waste, 91% of which has never been recycled.
It goes on to say that the fossil fuel industry is doing its best to keep us consuming plastic, because as we start to break our dependency on oil, the only way they can continue to make a profit is by selling it to us in the form of plastic.
There is one bright note. A Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020 has been introduced to Congress. This act would ban many single-use plastics, and force corporations to pay for programs to keep plastic out of the environment.
Making the front end polluter pay sounds like a really great first step, but this act faces forceful opposition from the oil and soda lobbies, and Trump is very much in favor of propping up the oil industry, so it will be interesting to see how far this gets. Ask your congressman to support this act.
We need to do something. We probably won’t. This has got to stop. It probably won’t. But at least there are people out there who are thinking about it, and they need our support.
I grew up with Star Trek on TV. It never occurred to me that this show was violent, even though they got into a shooting match at least once per episode. I think that’s because you never saw blood, and even the Vulcan neck pinch didn’t seem that invasive. And the phasers didn’t go “bang, bang, bang,” they went, “pew, pew, pew.” And most of the time they were set to stun. The very word phaser makes you think it will only leave you fazed.
I remember running around in the yard, pointing my finger at other kids, shouting, “pew, pew, pew!” and knowing that at the end of the game, no one would really be hurt. It’s hard to even shout pew. It sounds like a whisper even when you say it loudly. In fact, it sounds like you’re talking about sitting down at church. And come to think of it, the pews almost always seem to come in threes, like the holy trinity.
I’ve been lucky, living where I live at this particular point in time. I’ve barely ever heard a gun shot in real life, and I have never been shot at. No invasive metal objects have entered my body unless you count tooth fillings.
But here lately, my fellow citizens have been hit with rubber bullets and glass balls. Flash bangs and tear gas have been thrown at them. People have been hurt, hospitalized, even killed. All because they are protesting police violence, where people have been killed for no justifiable reason. We’ve been ignoring this. We can no longer do so.
While I’d love to reenter the fantasy world of my childhood, the land of pew, pew, pew, I can’t do that anymore. Violence is real. And while most of us are, indeed, stunned, these phasers have never been set to stun for many of us. It’s time we acknowledge that and put a stop to it.
Recently, I blogged about the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), a protest society that has sprung up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, which makes me love this city even more. I don’t know how long this little enclave will last, but I was intrigued by the concept. I wanted to bear witness.
I was glad to see that it was still there, even though it has undergone a name change. CHAZ is now CHOP: Capital Hill Organized Protest, because it can’t be considered autonomous in the strictest sense of the word. It doesn’t have its own utilities. It does not maintain its own streets or provide its own bureaucracy. It has not enacted its own constitution. It’s more like a barnacle on the shell that is Seattle, which in turn is a barnacle on the shell of the Duwamish tribal lands. But if CHOP is a barnacle, it’s a beautiful one.
CHOP has three demands: 1) Defund the police. 2) Invest that money in the community. 3) Release all protestors.
Trump would have you believe that a part of the city has been taken over by domestic terrorists, and that if he has it his way, he’ll send in the troops. There’s also this huge rumor that people are toting guns up in there. In essence, that it’s a war zone, all hell has broken loose, and the inmates are running the asylum. I wanted to find out for myself.
The weirdest part about CHOP, as far as I’m concerned, is that there were thousands of people there. Many were lookie-loos like me. Most were masked. But it was the largest crowd that I have been around in months, thanks to the quarantine, and I have to say that it felt exceedingly strange. Such are the times in which we live.
The biggest danger in CHOP, in my opinion, is COVID-19. I didn’t see a single gun the entire time I was there. I saw no violence. The only destruction I saw was the graffiti, which for the most part is really beautiful and well thought out. I felt completely safe.
I was able to listen to several protesters speak. One emphasized that this was a peaceful community. They didn’t destroy. They didn’t burn. And it was obviously true. I also saw a makeshift salon on the street, a circle of couches and chairs, where people were talking about race in the forthright way that you’d never see at a gathering at your average coffee shop. There are several teach-ins going on at any given time at CHOP.
I visited the No Cop Co-op. Free everything. They don’t even accept money in the form of donations. And everyone is welcome to help themselves. I did not do so because I’m sure there are people out there who are more in need than I am.
Cal Anderson Park was full of tents and gatherings. There’s even a vegetable garden starting out there. People were talking quietly. There was no buying or selling going on, and it was refreshing. This wasn’t some festival. These people are seriously wanting to make a change.
If anything, they were earnest to the point of exhaustion. Everyone seemed to be right on point. I did not get the impression that this was a bunch of freeloaders taking advantage of a hassle-free space.
I honestly felt kind of out of place. I was a lot older than the demographic, and a few times I felt like I was being viewed with suspicion. Was I a police or city plant? But everyone treated me, and everyone else, with respect.
I wanted to contribute to the place, so I brought some books to donate from my little free library. One was an anthology of working class literature. But the rest were just, you know, books to read. Because you can’t be on message all the time, can you? Sometimes you just need to read a good book. That was my thinking.
But when I turned them in, the guy at the co-op got a hopeful look in his eye, and asked if it was anarchist literature. Then I felt kind of silly, and was glad that the blush was hidden behind my mask. He was gracious and took the books anyway. I wonder what he did with them.
Hey, you know? You have to at least try. Even if your good intentions miss the mark.
I’m really rooting for CHOP. I walked away feeling like I had witnessed something historic, something important. I certainly know I wasn’t witnessing domestic terrorism.
Here are some pictures that we took in CHOP. I’ll do my best, out of respect for the protesters, to not include any where the unmasked faces are identifiable.
This current wave of extremely justifiable and long overdue protests has taught me many things. It has inspired many a recent blog. So much is happening that I can barely keep up.
One person I know has said that she’s really quite over hearing about all this. She wants to go back to seeing nothing but cat videos. My response to her is that a lot of people have had to live “all this” for their entire lives, so she really needs to suck it up and face facts. Who knows? She might learn something.
What I want to talk about today is the two things I vow to never say again.
By saying white supremacy, I’ve been giving credence to the unscientific concept of race. Pitting whites against blacks is implying that these are two different species. It’s a belief that we are separate mammals, one from another. That not only has no basis in fact, but it’s giving power to the very hateful people that I oppose with every fiber of my being.
From now on, I will call it White Body Supremacy. That shines the absurd light on it that it deserves. These people are saying, “My white body is superior to your black body.” That’s stupid. That’s like saying that a tan dog is superior to a grey dog. Stop being fools. You’re getting all whipped up and violent over melanin. You’re unhinged.
The System is Broken
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: The system is not broken. The system works exactly the way the system was meant to work. The system wants to keep minorities down. The system wants rogue cops to be able to get away with murder. The system wants to incarcerate black people at a much higher rate than whites. The system has been diabolically effective in meeting its goals.
Saying that the system is broken implies that it can be fixed, and that we need to work within the existing system and simply improve upon it. It gives the impression that it’s otherwise great, that we just need to make a few minor adjustments, a few little tweaks, and everything will be just ducky.
Uh… no. The system needs to be replaced. The system needs to be thrown out. We need to start from scratch. That’s the only real fix that is going to fix anything.
That’s why my thoughts have evolved over the past week, and I now agree with the admittedly inflammatory phrase, “defund the police.” I’m not saying that we should live in a state of lawless anarchy. I’m saying those funds would be better spent in creating an entirely different system, one with a strong social work component, and less of a militarized, “the people are the enemy and we are at war with them” culture.
This concludes today’s lecture. I hope you took notes. There might be a test later.
Once again, the Freedom Foundation has submitted a public disclosure request to my city to get all my contact information, and every other city employee’s, for that matter, who happens to be a member of a union. If you’re not familiar with this organization, it’s a highly funded union-busting hate group. I’ve blogged about them before, and strongly urge you to read that post.
But rest assured, if these people contact you, they do not have your best interests at heart. Yes, you’re well within your rights not to pay your union dues. You’ll even still be covered by the union, but you’ll be weakening it by getting something for nothing. And that’s exactly what the Freedom Foundation wants to happen.
“As compared with non-right-to-work states, wages in right-to-work states are 3.2 percent lower on average, or about $1,500 less a year. Workers in right-to-work states were less likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance and pension coverage. This does not just apply to union members, but to all employees in a state.
“Where unions are strong, compensation increases even for workers not covered by any union contract, as nonunion employers face competitive pressure to match union standards. Likewise, when unions are weakened by right-to-work laws, all of a state’s workers feel the impact.”
I’ve worked in both Florida, a right-to-work state, and Washington, a union state, so I’ve seen this with my own eyes. Unions vastly improve living conditions for everyone, so it’s very important to support them. Why would anyone want to get rid of their ability to collectively bargain? Why wouldn’t you want to have strength in numbers? Stay union strong!
If the Freedom Foundation contacts you by e-mail, unsubscribe. If they send you junk mail, recycle it. If they show up at your door, take their flyers, tear them up in their presence, and tell them to get off your property, and to never come back.
Thanks to all the current demonstrations that have been happening because Black Lives Matter, a new protest society has sprung up in Seattle, Washington. It’s in a 6 block area of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which has been ground zero for the most violent of the police responses to the protesters. For many nights, the streets were a fog of tear gas and flash bangs rang in the resident’s ears. Police cruisers were set alight, and looters were destroying area businesses.
Finally, the police boarded up and abandoned their East Precinct building, and closed the area off to traffic, with the exception of first responders. The building’s sign has since been altered. It now reads, “Seattle People Department East Precinct”.
Currently, volunteers are giving out free food, and there are first aid stations set up on many of the corners. People are camping out in tents. It is a free speech and police free zone. They even showed the movie “13th” on a bed sheet in an intersection, and 200 people peacefully attended. Children have decorated the streets with chalk. The area is now covered in protest graffiti and shrines to people who have died too young, for no justifiable reason.
There are rumors of people open carrying guns, and that’s rather worrisome to me. There is also rumors of extortion of local businesses, which is outrageous. And one of their demands is that the police department be defunded.
I’m not sure I agree with that. But I DO think police funds should be reallocated away from militarization and toward de-escalation training. I also think that for every cop, their ought to be a social worker. And there should be more citizen oversight and a heck of a lot more accountability. So if anything, these departments need more money, but differently handled. That’s just my opinion.
But it will be interesting to see how the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, a.k.a CHAZ, develops over the next weeks, even months. There’s no specific leadership there. Maybe that’s the point. But I don’t see how that’s sustainable. We’ll see.
I’m rather proud of Seattle for trying for a new society. Of course, Trump takes great exception to any situation that allows we, the people, to speak for ourselves. He tweeted, “Domestic Terrorists have taken over Seattle.” He blathered on, “Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan responded, “Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker.”
That makes me like her a little more, even though people are calling for her to resign.
I’d like to go check out CHAZ. As of this writing, I’ve only experienced a virtual walk through, on line. If I do go, I’ll blog about it again. But my main takeaway at the moment is that, clearly, change needs to happen for our citizenry. #BlackLivesMatter
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