TRUTHDIG-Obamacare is leaving millions in serious financial pain, pointing up the need for universal health care -- Medicare for all. That’s Sen. Bernie Sanders’ position, and it is a crucial difference between him and Hillary Clinton, his chief rival for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. 

Reiterating one of his major themes Saturday, Sanders told a Putting Families First forum in Des Moines, Iowa, “What this campaign is about is ending the disgrace of the United States being the only major country not to provide healthcare to all people as a right.” 

Clinton, who did not join Sanders and fellow candidate Martin O’Malley at the forum, has offered a considerably more limited plan. She would fix the Affordable Care Act rather than replace it with Medicare for all. She would limit what patients pay for doctor visits and prescription drugs and repeal the law’s planned tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored insurance. And she would try to stop excessive insurance rate increases and limit drug price increases. 

These would just be fixes to a system scathingly described this way by Robert Pear of The New York Times: “For many families, the Affordable Care Act has not made healthcare affordable.” 

A recent study by the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation shows how Obamacare falls short of rescuing Americans from the nagging medical insecurity the act was supposed to have ended. 

On the plus side, Obamacare has made health insurance available to millions who were previously denied it, such as those with pre-existing conditions or freelancers, small-business people and those who found themselves without insurance after losing a job and being confronted by few choices and astronomical rates. Insurance is purchased through an online marketplace -- an exchange -- with subsidies for those with lower incomes. The poor can buy insurance through Medicaid in the 31 states that have agreed to accept federal funding through Obamacare. A total of 16.4 million people have gained coverage under Obamacare. In addition, millions more have health insurance through employers or with policies purchased individually. 

But the survey by the Times and the Kaiser Foundation showed great weakness in this complex system, which is pretty much run by the insurance industry. 

The survey consisted of in-depth interviews of 1,204 adults ages 18 to 64 who said that they or someone in their household had problems paying or were unable to pay medical bills in the previous 12 months. 

Confusing insurance company networks have thrust patients into the hands of physicians and other caregivers who are “out of network,” so patients are only partly covered or not covered at all. Policies with low premiums can impose high deductibles and payments. Despite the goals of Obamacare, people find it confusing to shop for policies or to sign up. 

The survey showed that “problems related to unaffordable medical bills and medical debt are prevalent, affecting roughly 1 in 4 non-elderly adults in the United States. Certain groups are more vulnerable, including individuals and families with lower incomes and limited financial assets, people with chronic medical conditions and disabilities, the uninsured, and people insured by plans with high deductibles.” Also hurt are “people … [with] higher incomes, who are insured, or who are otherwise in good health and then experience unexpected health problems.” 

“Of those who were insured when the bills were incurred, three-quarters … say that their share of the medical cost was more than they could afford,” the report said. 

The survey found about seven in 10 of those interviewed reported cutting back or delaying vacations or major household purchases, as well as reducing spending on food, clothing and basic household items. About six in 10 said they used up all or most of their savings in order to pay medical bills. 

These are more than dry figures for policy wonks who study healthcare. They help explain the anger simmering in the country, as well as numbers that show the discouraged unemployed dropping out of the workforce while income gains go mainly to the top earners. 

Sanders is campaigning for an end to this. He’s doing it in a blunt, forthright way that appeals to Democrats tired of an economic system stacked against them. His message, uncluttered with Clinton-like ambiguities, seems to be resonating in the states of the first two contests: Iowa, where caucuses will be held Feb. 1, and New Hampshire, which has a Feb. 9 primary. Clinton, in the latest polling, is leading Sanders slightly in Iowa and trailing him in New Hampshire. 

These numbers were pumping up the dozen or so volunteers making phone calls for Sanders in a Hollywood studio built in 1916 by Mack Sennett, the pioneer director of slapstick comedies. I watched in the big barn of a soundstage as the volunteers phoned people in Iowa, determining whether they were potential Sanders voters and then pitching those who were. Laptops connected to Sanders’ headquarters in Vermont, provided the numbers and dialed them. This scene was repeated in other places in the country. 

The way the volunteers stuck with it on a Sunday afternoon was impressive. Sanders is on to something, connecting with the anger in a positive way, as opposed to Donald Trump’s foul negativism. 

Sanders has been every bit a match for the overly cautious Hillary Clinton -- maybe enough of a match to beat her in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere. 

(Bill Boyarsky is a columnist for Truthdig, the Jewish Journal, and LA Observed. This piece was posted first at  Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.




Vol 14 Issue 5

Pub: Jan 15, 2016

PLATKIN ON PLANNING--The simultaneous announcements from the Mayor’s Office that the current Director of City Planning, Michael LoGrande, has resigned, and his successor will be – pending confirmation -- Vince Bertoni, currently Pasadena’s Planning Director, speaks volumes.   

For one thing, there clearly was no national search for a new Director of Planning for the second largest city in the United States.  No job announcements in professional planning magazines.  No interviews of short-listed candidates before the City Planning Commission or the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee.  Just an uncharacteristically quick and decisive executive decision by Mayor Eric Garcetti.   

It indicates that LA now functions like a small town in which everyone knows each other since prior to Pasadena Vince Bertoni was a former Deputy Director of Planning in Los Angeles. City Hall no longer has an interest in tapping professional planning expertise from other metropolitan areas, such as Indianapolis (Cal Hamilton), New York City (Conn Howe), San Bernardino County (Ken Topping), or San Diego (Gail Goldberg).   

To be clear this lack of a national search is not because City Planning staff is so knowledgeable that there is no need to look elsewhere.  Rather, City Hall’s pro-development institutional culture is so in-grained that hiring professional planning from the outside could gum up the urban growth machine.  Better to tap a familiar face and hope that new Director of Planning can somehow placate two forces closely at odds with each other.  

On one side are the investors, contractors, realtors, and their ilk hard at work hustling permits and entitlements for everything from McMansions to skyscrapers.  

On the other side are the community groups that turn to publications like City Watch to make it clear that LA is in the midst of a speculative real estate bubble in which character, scale, environmental impacts, and infrastructure capacity barely factor into permitting decisions.  In fact, it is this “approve everything” attitude that gave rise to the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative that may have fueled Michael LoGrande’s unexpected departure. 

Presumably, the City Hall rumor mill will eventually leak the particulars of this revolving door, but until then speculation rules.  Did the City lose too many planning-related lawsuits, especially in Hollywood?  Did some City Hall insider not get the goods delivered in time?  Is the public being thrown a bone to undermine the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative?  At this point the public simply does not know, which is why rumors fly so easily. 

But regardless of the reasons, Vince Bertoni (photo left) clearly must have some mixed emotions about his new position.   He will inherit a department that is finally well staffed with over 400 employees, but the bulk of them are new hires because around 75 or more veteran planners left the Planning Department over the past decade through a golden hand shake or induced retirements.  

Their institutional memory and knowledge about planning and the particularities of Los Angeles walked out the door with them.  While the drive and ambition of recent hires can fill some of this vacuum, it also means that there will be avoidable mistakes and duplicated work. 

Since Vince Bertoni is a planning professional, he will quickly realize, if he does not already know it, that the planning function of LA City Planning is the runt of the litter.  Most of those 400 employees are dealing with zoning entitlements for specific projects, not planning Los Angeles.  Moreover, many of these entitlement projects require amendment to the General Plan, a clear indicator that market forces, not adopted plans, are shaping the Los Angeles of the future. 

The remedy for this situation is no easy task, and hundreds of zoning technicians cannot be quickly retooled to update, implement, and monitor the different elements of LA’s General Plan.  Only two of these elements are up-to-date:  Housing and Transportation (Mobility), and the latter is subject to a lawsuit.  One other optional element, Health, was recently adopted, but the other General Plan elements are seriously out-of-date and in need an urgent update.  

Foremost among those elements requiring an immediate update is the optional General Plan Framework Element.  It ties together the entire General Plan but is based on 1990 Census data.  It population forecast for 2010 overshot the 2010 census by nearly 500,000 people.   Another optional element, Infrastructure, dates back to the Calvin Hamilton era, and is now 50 years old. 

Furthermore, Los Angeles urgently needs two other optional General Plan elements.  One is Economic Development, a perennial issue in Los Angeles because employment levels have been stagnant for over two decades. 

The other optional element is Climate Change.  Many cities have already prepared a Climate Change Element, and the State of California has prepared detailed guidelines to assist cities in preparing this new element.  Instead, both Mayors Villaraigosa and Garcetti had their staff prepare Climate Action Plans.  In effect, the implementation program is there, but not the policies to guide and monitor it. 

In the case of the adopted General Plan elements, the situation is the reverse.  The policies are there, but their implementation is haphazard because there is no linkage whatsoever between the City’s planning process and its budgeting process, including the Capital Improvement Program.  Like each city Departments’ work program, they exist in parallel universes. 

Finally, all of the General Plan elements need to be carefully monitored, and the General Plan Framework mandates exactly what this monitoring entails.  But, the monitoring program does not exist, and City Planning has only produced one highly incomplete monitoring report in the past 16 years.  Public law suits have attempted to correct this enormous flaw, but the response of the Planning Department and the City Attorney was to fight the lawsuits, not to finally establish the monitoring program and produce the annual monitoring reports carefully delineated in the General Plan Framework. 

This tension between planning and zoning will not go away on its own in Los Angeles, and it is the job of a strong Director of Planning to make sure they are on an equal footing.  For this to happen, Vince Bertoni clearly has his work cutout for him.


(Dick Platkin is a former LA city planner who reports on planning issues for CityWatch.  He also serves on the boards of the Beverly Wilshire Homes Association and Planning Committee of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council. Please direct any comments or corrections to )





Vol 14 Issue 3

Pub: Jan 8, 2016

HERE’S WHAT I KNOW-Author E.M. Forster once wrote, “I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.” 

Although giving birth might not be a determining factor in the follow-through or even existence of activism, mothers have a longstanding tradition of mobilizing to get the job done. We joke about how a group of mothers can organize the logistics of running the soccer snack shack or a gift wrap drive that pays for those ELMO projectors in the classroom. These days, groups like Moms Demand Action, which has chapters in all fifty states, lobby members of Congress to push expanded background checks for guns. 

The President’s speech laying out the executive order to expand background checks for buyers and close the “gun show loophole” that exempts most small-sellers from keeping formal records of sale referenced the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook, from the introduction by Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed in the school mass shooting to the closing moments of the speech.

Sandy Hook was also a pivotal point for Shannon Watts, (photo above) an Indianapolis mother who started a Facebook page, “One Million Moms for Gun Control,” the day after the mass shooting. The page has grown into a nonpartisan advocacy group. The group’s “We Can End Gun Violence” video features President Obama as well as Julianne Moore, Spike Lee, Amy Schumer, and Michael J. Fox. Last fall just before the third anniversary of Sandy Hook, the organization’s Orange Walks around the country to “honor all the lives taken by gun violence in America and show just how determined we are to end it.” (Moms Demand Action)

The Indianapolis mother has become a leader in the movement to end gun violence, joined by supporters across the country who have started local or statewide chapters. How did Watts turn a personal mission into a national powerhouse?

Watts has stated that she modeled Moms Demand Action after Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD.) Since MADD was incorporated in 1980, the organization has evolved into one of the most influential grassroots-founded nonprofits in the U.S.

Like Moms Demand Action, MADD was founded by a mother. Candy Lightner took action after her 13-year old daughter was killed by a driver who had multiple records of arrest for intoxication and a hit-and-run drunk driving charge less than a week before the fatal accident. Today, drunk driving carries consequences but it hasn’t always been that way. At the time of Cari Lightner’s death, drunk driving was rarely prosecuted. Cari was one of 2,500 alcohol-related traffic fatalities that year in California when her mother lobbied Governor Jerry Brown to set up a task force on drunk driving. Lightner became the first member.

A year later, California had passed a law imposing minimum $375 fines for drunk drivers and mandatory sentences for repeat offenders. President Reagan tapped the California mother to serve on the National Commission on Drunk Driving. The commission recommended raising the drinking age to 21 and revoking licenses for repeat offenders. By 1984, the President had signed a law that reduced federal highway grants to states that had not raised the drinking age to 21 and all states had imposed stronger DUI laws. MADD had about 320 chapters and 600,000 volunteers throughout the country by 1985.

Although Lightner parted ways with the organization she started in 1985, MADD continued to impact DUI laws, waging a successful campaign to lower the national legal blood alcohol level (BAC) from 0.1 percent to 0.08. MADD’s lobbying efforts have led to numerous other laws and practices, including administrative license suspensions and ignition interlock laws. MADD continues to work towards their mission to “end drunk driving, help fight drug driving, support the victims of these violent crimes, and prevent underage drinking.”

E.M. Forster may have been right. If mothers like Candy Lightner and Shannon Watts can impact issues like DUI legislation and gun licensing, what other causes can be spearheaded by mothers who make a difference?

(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles-based writer and CityWatch contributor.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.




Vol 14 Issue 3

Pub: Jan 8, 2016

OTHER WORDS-Most presidential candidates, with the glaring exception of Donald Trump, say Islam is no enemy of the United States. I agree wholeheartedly. And how could there be a better way to prove that point than for a Muslim cartoonist to lead this great nation? 

That’s why I’m stepping up again. I want to be your prez in a fez. 

People always ask me: “Mr. Bendib, where’s the beef?” and — more importantly — “is the beef Halal?” (Kosher, for Muslims.) What would a Bendib presidency deliver, my fellow Americans?

I’m so glad you asked. Here’s the heart of my presidential platform: 

Foreign policy: Why stop at turning swords into ploughshares? Box cutters, machetes, Ginsu knives — I’d turn all sharp cutting implements into organic food-cultivating instruments. 

Pork barrel spending: As a self-respecting Muslim, you can guess how I feel about pork. 

Education: We need pens, not guns; books, not bombs; and math instruction, not mass destruction. 

Making war vs. making love: As your president, I’d ban all wars and make love mandatory. To those who lust for ever more military conquests, I’d simply repeat that love conquers all. 

Military overreach: As your commander-in-chief, I’d shut down the hundreds of overseas military bases we possess around the world and turn them into marijuana dispensaries. During the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover promised “a chicken in every pot.” I’d guarantee a little “pot in every kitchen.” 

Nuclear proliferation: Instead of threatening to bomb Iran if it breaks the nuclear deal, I’d shame the Islamic Republic into voluntarily abandoning its nuclear ambitions forever. How? Leading by example, I’d demand the dismantlement of all nuclear weapons everywhere — starting with the world’s largest arsenal, our very own. 

The environment: I’d do everything in my power to save the planet’s magnificent biodiversity and preserve all the animal species and all the plants…except for nuclear plants. I’d rid our country of all nukes. Green power to the people, I say. How about slapping more solar panels and wind turbines on those carbon-guzzling Trump Towers while we’re at it? 

Economic justice: Why throw Bernie Madoff in prison for stealing from the rich while allowing billions in bonuses for those who steal from the 99 percent? I’d pardon Madoff and ask him to keep up the good work. I might even appoint him treasury secretary. 

Immigration: I’d throw the gates open. Instead of Wall Street speculators moving our jobs and money across borders, people would be free to come and go as they please — including some of the Syrian huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I’d build bridges instead of walls, paying for them in dollars instead of pesos. Let’s let friendship trump paranoia. 

Right-wing demagogues seem to forget the positive contributions Muslims have made to Western civilization over the past 14 centuries. Do you know who introduced coffee to the Western world? If you said the Arabs of Yemen and the Muslims of Turkey, you’re right. 

Imagine how unproductive America would be today without its daily cup of Arabica. Donald Trump, it’s time for you to wake up, smell the coffee, and stand down. 

President John F. Kennedy didn’t bring the Vatican into the White House, as initially feared during his 1960 campaign. Likewise, I wouldn’t bring Mecca into the Oval Office. To paraphrase a great president before me, “The only thing we have to fear is the fear of Islam itself.” 

God bless America and as-salaamu alaikum — may peace be with you.

(OtherWords cartoonist, artist, and radio host Khalil Bendib lives in Berkeley, California. Since he was born in Paris, he’s not technically eligible to run for president.)

(Khalil Bendib is OtherWords’ editorial cartoonist, an artist, and the author or co-author of several books, including the widely translated graphic novel Zahra’s Paradise. He was born in Paris as a refugee of Algeria’s war of independence and grew up in Morocco and Algeria. He lives in Berkeley, California. Column provided CityWatch by Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.





Vol 14 Issue 5

Pub: Jan 15, 2016

GUEST WORDS-Development has been booming in Los Angeles since the end of the Great Recession -- Angelenos need housing and developers are pumping out bigger and bigger mixed-users to take advantage of this. But not everyone is a fan. 

A ragtag group of Hollywood NIMBYs who call themselves the Coalition to Preserve LA believes the rapid development of Los Angeles is something along the lines of a "Manhattanization" of their beloved city, citing already-dense, development-crazy Hollywood as their exhibit A. Emboldened by their public fight with the Palladium Residences, (photo above) and frustrated by a lack of consistency in the city's zoning practices, the CPLA wants to put an end to the city's practice of using piecemeal amendments to city codes to allow real estate developers to build stuff not normally allowed by LA's extremely outdated zoning code.  To that end, the CPLA has proposed a ballot measure they call the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative that locks developers into iron-clad (and often outdated) density restrictions. 

On the flip side, City Hall is looking to build a lot of housing and fast to meet the needs of residents -- 100,000 units by 2021-- so this ballot measure is triggering fears of red tape that could stifle LA's ability to build its way out of an epic housing crunch. The fear of NIMBYs is real. According to the LA Daily News, Mayor Garcetti is hoping to meet with the CPLA to hammer out some kind of compromise before the initiative can make it on to the November ballot. 

The NII ballot measure would stop all amendments to the city's General Plan, increase oversight from city planning officials, and stop construction on all projects not in compliance with the city's General Plan for up to two years, until their impacts on the community could be reviewed. The CPLA believes this would put a stop to mega developments skirting the zoning codes through what they call "unlawful favoritism" from the city. (NIMBYs sued in the past to prevent a more modern update to the planning guidelines in Hollywood.) 

LA is rapidly approaching a point where outdated city planning guidelines clash with a modern metropolis that has outgrown the concept of sprawl. City officials, worried they could be handcuffed to antiquated zoning laws, are beginning to publicly voice their displeasure with the proposed initiative. 

Last month, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell said the initiative was "bad for LA" and bad for the city's economy. Garcetti says he agrees with the initiative's "sentiment" of decreasing spot zoning and variances to the city code, but a ballot measure is not the way to accomplish the goal, adding that it would have "unintended consequences," such as rising rents and a decrease in available housing during a housing crisis.” The mayor would like to meet with the CPLA to discuss a compromise that would "get to the heart" of the CPLA's complaints without going to the voters in November. 

CPLA leader Michael Weinstein says he's willing to meet with the mayor, but doesn't show any signs of wavering in his push for the measure. He says in order for CPLA to agree to a compromise, the LA City Council would have to pass severe limits to the granting of exemptions, and commit to "doing a new general plan or community plan on a set timeline." Until then, the CPLA is going ahead with their ballot measure. They even have a PR campaign planned to help gather the 65,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot. And in the next few weeks, they will erect billboards pleading for LA to "Stop Manhattanwood." 

(Jeff Wattenhofer writes for Curbed LA, where this perspective was first posted.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.





Vol 14 Issue 3

Pub: Jan 8, 2016


HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOOMERS--On New Year’s Day, the first baby boomers will turn 70.

From Jan. 1, 1946, through the end of 1964, 76 million babies were born in the U.S., more humans than lived in this country in 1900.

With a little help from LSD and our friends, we’ve won a cultural and technological revolution.

But our earthly survival depends on beating the lethal cancer of corporate domination-and the outcome is in doubt.

The GIs coming back from World War II kicked Rosie the Riveter out of the factories and into the suburbs.

The GI Bill gave them cheap home loans and free college tuition, birthing one of the world’s great university systems and one of its best-educated workforces.

Millions of boomers entered those colleges in the early ’60s. They lit the torch for a cultural revolution. They also invented the personal computer and the Internet.

Pot and psychedelics were essential to both. (Timothy Leary-Photo above)

The cultural revolution began with race and gender. The movements demanding equality for black, Hispanic and female Americans is far from finished. But all have progressed many orders of magnitude since the first boomers were born.

The birth control pill opened the floodgates for sexual freedom. But except for socialist and feminist Emma Goldman in the 1910s, America had hosted virtually zero public dialogue about homosexuality-until the Stonewall riots of 1969. Gay activists were at last openly out, vocal and explicit. An astonishingly powerful, fast-paced movement has transformed the mainstream and media, where gay and interracial couples have become “no big deal” in record time.

In tandem has come the music. Rock ’n’ roll grew organically from the blues, ragtime, gospel, swing, bebop, and rhythm and blues. It rode the 1930s invention of the electric guitar. But it took a quantum leap in the ’60s as pot and LSD morphed the music of Jimi, Janis, Dylan, the Doors and especially the Beatles and their Sgt. Pepper. From Monterey to Woodstock, the Stones to the Dead, something happened to the pop/rock culture and we’re still not sure exactly what it was, but LSD and pot were at the bottom of it.

The media tried to drown it out with a tedious tsunami of endless psychobabble. In 1971, Richard Nixon launched his racist, anti-youth drug war, complete with 41 million arrests, aimed at crushing the civil rights and counterculture movements.

But something else was happening and we didn’t know what that was, either. In Northern California, around Stanford University and some early Silicon Valley startups, a transcendent band of uniquely stoned code warriors blew open the bravest new world of human interconnection. A million stoned rants about how we humans are “all of one mind” suddenly became tangible with the personal computer and the Internet, all miraculously linked.

Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and a host of merry geeksters merged cannabis and psychedelics with music and activism (see John Markoff’s “What the Dormouse Said”) into a magical, digital mystery tour, a transcendent PC/Internet wave that we all now ride. Humankind has never known a more transformative amplification of consciousness and technology.

With it has come a revolution in green power. The silicon chip has yielded the silicon solar cell and the ability to turn the sun’s energy into electric current and amazingly efficient LED lighting. With them have come massive wind turbines with escalating efficiency and the power to envision a solartopian earth freed of the grid-to be totally electrified by cheap, sustainable, job-creating green energy that is owned and managed through a democratized network of small communities and stand-alone rooftops.

To that has been added a new level of mass transit (see the train systems in Europe, China, Japan) and the electric car-zero emission, low maintenance, increasingly affordable-with a conjoined revolution in mass-produced batteries ready to stretch our range and smooth the “intermittency” of renewable generation.

Would this all have been possible if LSD had not mimicked for a new American generation what peyote and other ritual substances did for our indigenous tribal (and matriarchal) ancestors so long before the whites came? Did that ancient prophecy really say a generation of whites would someday come with a Hopi-sounding name (“hippies”) to bring lasting peace?

More critical is to finally pay attention to the wisdom our indigenous forebears had to share about living in harmony with our Mother Earth.

And how to transcend the corporate cancer that’s killing us all.

In medical terms, we’re at a breakthrough moment. A mix of natural cures (like cannabis), balanced with carefully targeted DNA-based chemotherapies, stem cells and genetic therapy, have transformed the fight to survive. Stem cells in particular promise a wide range of treatments we can only barely envision.

My friend Peter Simon, one of our generation’s great photographers, has seen a new “boutique” chemotherapy (taken with cannabis suppositories) reduce his lung cancer by half. Another friend’s lung cancer has been defeated with new stem-cell therapy.

With new ideas being facilitated by the PC and shared on the Internet, saturation chemo and contempt for natural cures are being blown away by a radical new storm of holistic integrated treatments.

But the fight against the most lethal cancer of all seems seriously stuck. We have transformed our culture and our technology. But our politics have been metastasized by the lethal toxins of corporate cash.

Somehow our courts grant corporations human rights with no human responsibilities. Their DNA carries just one imperative—make money. If a corporation can make an extra buck by killing you and your family, it’s legally bound to do so. They can slash maintenance at your local nuclear power plants, melt them down, blow them up, exterminate you and your family with no liability to the corporate entity. Their profoundly anti-human ethos protects them from paying the human and planetary costs because they are immune. Yet they’re programmed to gouge out as much financial excess as possible for their unelected CEOs, no matter what happens to workers or the surrounding population or to the world in which we all live (but that they seem to be just visiting).

A corporation cannot sacrifice short-term profit for long-term environmental benefit. Greed is the absolute master of all the corporation does, with human and ecological consequences of zero concern except for public relations reasons, which fluctuate.

When a corporation does business, it expects to gouge you. When it crashes, it expects you to bail it out, with no penalties to those in charge (see the crash of 2007). When it demands global trade deals, it expects to negate the power of the human community.

If you wanted to design an economic/industrial entity more perfectly suited to eradicating human life and destroying our planet, you could hardly do better than the modern transnational corporation.

Our species at this time seems impotent to control this malignancy. We may have hugely transformed our views on race, feminism, sexuality, sexual preference, music, the arts, the environment, organic food, imperial war and much more; but the global corporation is the twisted, mean-spirited sociopath that turns all it touches to death itself.

By legal charter these malignant parasites cannot stop sucking the life force from all of us. Unopposed, they will persist until every possible ounce of profit can be extracted from our bodies, souls and planet, even as they hire armies of PR bloviators to make us believe that’s how “the system” must work: Fukushima is good for us. Smoking does not cause cancer. Aspartame will make you thin. Slave wages will make you free. Ignorance is strength.

And, above all, war is peace.

In response, a new world of music provides a fabulous soundtrack to accompany our class and culture war. We know how to love each other beyond race, gender, class and preference. We understand that the earth is one and we humans are neither separate nor superior.

What we don’t yet know is how to dethrone greed, how to strip from the corporate genetic code the power and proclivity to kill us all.

The real acid test of the baby boomers is to unite with those who’ve come before and since to rid our body politic of the power of money and the poisons it produces.

Feed your head, the dormouse said. And may the force be with us.

(Harvey Wasserman is an author. His “America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of US History” is now available for your comments, in early draft, pre-publication form, at He was born on the last day of 1945. Posted earlier at the excellent Truthdig





Vol 14 Issue 1

Pub: Jan 1, 2016

More Articles ...