"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Posts Tagged ‘Martin Luther King Jr.’

The Martin Luther King Legacy And The Global Economic Crisis: Can One Influence The Other?

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Oldspeak: “Martin Luther King was a Champion of poor, disenfranchised, marginalized people. He was anti-militaristic, anti-capitalist, anti-corporatist, anti-poverty, pro-life, pro-love, pro-union, for inclusion, freedom and equality. Today In Obama’s america, young people, poor people, people of color, and the unemployed are being ignored. The U.S. is waging 4 wars. Income inequality is at depression era levels. Workers rights are being usurped. Access to education is being eroded. The food supply is facing existential threats from GMOs and rampant financial speculation. Public spending and services are being cut. More and more public entities and institutions are being commodified and privatized. Meanwhile Obama’s benefactors in Banking, and other sectors of the Oligarchy are doing better than ever. Brother Martin has to be rolling in his grave at seeing his legacy forsaken and trampled upon by one of his own…”

By Danny Schecter @ Truthout:

Before he went over that mountain top in that week in April like this one back in l968, Martin Luther King Jr. said he had already seen the other side as he spent his last days on earth fighting for the garbage men of Memphis, while speaking out about the twin evils of war and poverty.

A few days earlier, a great, black American essayist and historian, Manning Marable, died suddenly just before his new and definitive book on Malcolm X came out showing how America’s best-known Muslim martyr had moved from a focus on the domestic politics of racial confrontation to the international politics of global revolution.

(Among his findings: The US government spied on Malcolm as he globe-trotted, linking up with like-minded activists. This was offered up as a new revelation. I had to smile since I did an investigative report for Ramparts Magazine in 1967 on how the CIA was trying to discredit him in Africa.)

We live in a world of constantly redrawn battle lines where new generations displace the old ones and some of yesterday’s leaders move to higher levels of consciousness, while many others, like Libya’s human rights abusing leader Qaddafi along with some civil rights leaders, years ago, secretly joined Washington’s crusade against Malcolm.

Washington is now crusading against Libya. The war there was first declared a humanitarian intervention before it turned into a military intervention in a civil war, and is on its way to becoming a stalemate. Already NATO has bombed the rebels in one of those mistakes all too common in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The US has apparently decided it no longer wants to throw good money after bad – perhaps because it has finally dawned on the White House that we are running out of money. So, we are declaring victory and moving on.

Even imperial projects have to be tempered as our wars abroad turn into follies and our economic turnaround at home is also not what it has been advertised to be.

As the AFL CIO noted while the administration was celebrating a downtick in unemployment:

“While the official unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, it’s 15.7 percent if unemployed, underemployed and those who have given up looking for work are included – more than 24 million people …

“Young people and people of color continue to experience the worst jobless rates which have remained high, with 24.5 percent of teenagers out of work and 15.5 percent of black workers and 11.3 percent of Hispanics jobless. Some 7.9 percent of white workers are jobless, as are 7.1 percent of Asian workers.”

At the same time, better-paid government jobs are being chopped, leaving workers in lower wage, private sector jobs that pay less money for more work. Many of those workers say their salaries don’t cover their expenses. Foreclosures are up even as bank profits (and CEO salaries) soar.

We are just learning the full extent of the Federal Reserve Banks loans to banks the world over, while a promised crackdown on fraud has yet to come. A bailout costing trillions was kept secret until a reporter’s lawsuit just forced a disclosure.

Still hidden is the role government plays in manipulating markets or pumping them up through the Plunge Protection Team, a shadowy agency I discuss in more detail in my book, “The Crime of Our Time” (Disinfo Books).

Wall Street’s “swinging dicks,” as they are called, are back in the saddle. They have neutered financial reform and seem to have silenced the president, who seems to want o cheer up the people rather than inform them about what’s really going on as food and gas prices rise while inflation begins to rear its ugly head.

Veteran investor Jim Rogers told the Daily Bell: “It’s already happening; prices are going higher. Now the blame game starts and the government will blame it on draught or crop failure or whatever. Politicians will do and say anything to avoid explaining that inflation is a monetary problem. Their reactions are always the same and it’s always astonishing to me. As President Ford said, “there is no problem” – and even if there is, it’s not his problem. Well, there are always people who are in denial; then, the problem gets worse not better.

Wall Street’s hedge funds are having a field day. The New York Times reports that wealth among executives in that part of the financial labyrinth is so concentrated that 25 hedge fund managers “pocketed a total of $22.07 billion … At $50,000 a year, it would take the salaries of 441,000 Americans to match the sum.”

Who is speaking out against this? Not the Republicans, for sure. Not many Democrats either. Not even the president or his “more wealth for the wealthy” booster Treasury chief Tim Geithner.

Wall Street is stronger than ever. Its “reforms” are proving to be a joke. No big executives who profited from pervasive mortgage fraud have gone to jail as prosecutions dwindle.

There has been a respite in Wisconsin as a state judge shoots down the GOP’s attempt to outlaw collective bargaining, but similar laws have passed in Ohio and New Hampshire.

In a globalized world, we are all interdependent. What happens to one part of this web affects us all. That’s why we have to pay attention to the falling economic dominoes in Europe, where Portugal may be next to go with Spain and Ireland not far behind. So far, protests by hundreds of thousands in Britain have not dented, much less changed, the government’s cutbacks in the name of austerity.

Serious critics may have the facts on their side, but are still being marginalized. They are considered ranters, not reasonable. Journalist Chris Hedges was honored when he wrote for the New York Times. When he left, and was finally able to speak his own mind, he began challenging the false promises of globalization

He writes, “The refusal by all of our liberal institutions, including the press, universities, labor and the Democratic Party, to challenge the utopian assumptions that the marketplace should determine human behavior permits corporations and investment firms to continue their assault, including speculating on commodities to drive up food prices. It permits coal, oil and natural gas corporations to stymie alternative energy and emit deadly levels of greenhouse gases. It permits agribusinesses to divert corn and soybeans to ethanol production and crush systems of local, sustainable agriculture.

“It permits the war industry to drain half of all state expenditures, generate trillions in deficits and profit from conflicts in the Middle East we have no chance of winning. It permits corporations to evade the most basic controls and regulations to cement into place a global neo-feudalism. The last people who should be in charge of our food supply or our social and political life, not to mention the welfare of sick children, are corporate capitalists and Wall Street speculators.”

So, once again, a gauntlet has been thrown down, but so far activists, advocates, unions and even progressive journalists stay submerged in fighting partisan wars and are not taking on the deeper fight for economic justice.

If we want to walk in the footsteps of Dr. King, we need to broaden our understanding of the scale of what needs changing and target the banksters on Wall Street as well as Republican politicians that do their biding.



Martin Luther King Injustice Index 2011: Racism, Materialism And Militarism In The U.S.

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Oldspeak: “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values… when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4, 1967

From Bill Quigley @ Truthout:

As we remember the courage and hope of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we must not forget that he spoke out and worked against the injustices of our nation, particularly those of racism, materialism and militarism.  Indeed that is what made him so hated and so dangerous when he was alive.

We have achievements to celebrate: the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;” the release of San Suu Kyi in Burma; the enactment of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights by the NY legislature that extends important labor rights to 200,000 nannies and housekeepers; the victories of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers; and the exposure of secret US and other country machinations by Wikileaks, among
others.

There has been progress in dismembering the laws of segregation which divided
our country.  We must celebrate the successes that many struggled to achieve.
However, as we celebrate those victories let us not lose sight of the challenges
still facing this country.

Here are some of the facts about racism, materialism and militarism in the US
which we should reflect on as we decide how best to carry on the radical
struggle for justice of Dr. King.  (For each fact, I provide a brief cite to the
sources which are listed at the end of the article).

Let us renew our commitment to the radical revolution of values for which Dr.
King gave his life as we turn to the realities of current life.

Racism: Health, Housing, Income and Jobs

Health

Infants born to black women are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to die than infants
born to women of all other races or ethnicities.  Black men and women are much
more likely to die of heart disease and stroke than their white counterparts.
Hypertension is by far most prevalent among non-Hispanic blacks (42% vs. 29%
among whites).  Uninsured persons are only about half as likely to have
hypertension under control as those with insurance. Source: Centers for Disease
Control (CDC).

Twenty-five percent of black workers and forty-three percent of Hispanic workers
do not have health insurance, compared to fifteen percent of white workers. Source:
Kaiser Family Foundation

Overall, sixteen percent of all whites, twenty-one percent of blacks and
thirty-two percent of Hispanics do not have health insurance. Source: census

Housing

In cities with large African American populations, black segregation looks
pretty much the same as it did 40 years ago; Hispanic segregation is on the
rise.  Source: Princeton

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the crisis in subprime mortgages in minority
neighborhoods was not the result of riskier lending spurred by the Community
Reinvestment Act or a decline in underwriting standards.  Source: Princeton

Even with similar qualities (credit profiles, down payment ratios, personal
characteristics, and residential locations) African Americans were more likely
to receive subprime loans.  Similarly blacks and Hispanics were significantly
more likely than whites to receive loans with unfavorable terms such as
prepayment penalties.  The result: from 1993 to 2000, the share of subprime
mortgages going to households in minority neighborhoods rose from 2 to 18
percent.  Source: Princeton

Because predatory lenders could efficiently target entire minority neighborhoods
with subprime mortgages, larger numbers of people were affected than would have
had they been more geographically spread out.  In true layman’s terms, it was
like “shooting fish in a barrel.”  Segregated neighborhoods just made it too
easy to engage large numbers of people in this devastating scheme and this
multiplied the effect of the crisis. Source: Princeton

Black middle class families have been stripped of more wealth by the real estate
and foreclosure crisis than any single event in US history.  Due entirely to
subprime loans, black borrowers are expected to lose between $71 billion and $92
billion. Source: Devona Walker

Income and Jobs

Median household income for white families is $51,861, for black families is
$32,584, and for Hispanic is it $38,039.  Source: census

The Immigration and Enforcement Agency is on pace to deport about 400,000 people
this fiscal year, more under the current administration than any before.
Source: Slevin

The overall unemployment rate among whites is 8.5% and among blacks it is
15.8%.  For white teenagers the unemployment rate is 22% and among blacks it is
44%.  Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Materialism: Inequality and Poverty

The top 25 hedge fund managers were paid on average, more than $1 billion each
in 2009.  Source: Schwartz, New York Times

Between 2002 and 2007, 65 percent of all income growth in the US went to the top
1 percent of the population; that top 1 percent also held a larger share of
income than any time since 1928, according to economists Emmanuel Saez and
Thomas Piketty. Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

There are 43 million people in the US living under the official poverty line.
While there are more white people living in poverty (30 million) than black (10
million) and Hispanic (12 million) poor combined, the poverty rate for whites of
12% is significantly less than the 26% rate for blacks and the 25% rate for
Hispanics.  Source: census

The bottom 20% of the US population have negative wealth, they owe more than the
value of all their assets.  From 20 to 40th percentile, the next 20% of the
population, average about $5,000 in wealth.  The middle 20%, from the 40 to 60th
percentile, own $65,000 in assets.  The next highest 20%, the 60 to 80th
percentile, are worth about $208,000.  From 80 to 90th, the average wealth is
$477,000.  From 90 to 95th, the wealth is $908,000 in assets.  From 95 to 99th
is $2,734,000 in wealth assets.  And the top 1%?  $13,977,000 in average
wealth. Source: State of Working America

Since the economic recession started there has been a 25% rise in the number of
people “doubling up” in housing by moving in with others, there has been a rise
in the number of homeless families, and in not one of the 50 states can a person
working full-time at one minimum wage afford a two bedroom apartment for his or
her family.  Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition

Militarism: Troops, Expenditures and Arms Sales

The US reports it has 1.4 million people in active military service in 143
countries around the world.  The top places for US military are:  Afghanistan
(105,900), Iraq (96,200), Germany (53,951), and Japan (34,385). Source: Department of
Defense

There are an additional 819,000 people in the Reserve and National Guard and
another 709,000 civilian personnel. Source: 2011 Census Statistical Abstract, Table 506.

The US spent $774 billion directly on its military budget in 2010.  The
Department of Defense budget was over $660 billion, counting the special
expenditures for Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Source: The Department of Veterans Affairs
was $114 billion for 2010.

The US spends much more on its military than any other country in the world.
Military spending has increased by 75% since the year 2000 and represents about
$2100 for every person in the US.  Excluding expenditures for veterans the US
military budget in 2009 was over $660 billion.  In second place globally was
China at about $100 billion.  France was third at $63 billion, the UK next with
$58 billion and Russia in 5th place spending $53 billion.  In fact the US spends
more on military than the rest of the top 10 countries in the world put
together. Source: SIRI

The US also leads the world in the sale of lethal weapons to others, selling
about one of every three weapons worldwide.  The USA’s major clients are South
Korea, Israel and United Arab Emirates. Source: SIRI

The US continues to hold 174 people in indefinite and illegal detention in
Guantanamo despite global calls for closure.  Thirty eight of those still being
held have won their habeas corpus petitions in front of federal judges but still
have not been freed. Source: Miami Herald.

The US continues to launch remote controlled unmanned predator drones into
Pakistan, a country we are not even at war with.  In 2010, US drones struck
Pakistan 118 times killing many civilians. Source: New America Foundation

The number of deaths in the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are difficult to
calculate since the US only counts US deaths.  The US reports 1277 US military
have died in Afghanistan and 4427 died in Iraq.  The Iraq Body Count estimates
between 99,357 and 108,475 civilians have died in violence associated with the
war in Iraq. Source:  www.iraqbodycount.org

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the total cost of
the Iraq war to the US is more than $3 trillion.  For this estimate he
calculated the actual military costs, the cost of treating and compensating
disabled veterans, a $10 increase in the price of oil (the increase in the price
of oil went from $25 a barrel when the US invaded Iraq to as high as $140 a
barrel in 2008), the increase in the federal debt and the borrowing that
demanded.  Source: Stiglitz

Conclusion

As we celebrate the life of Dr. King, let us realize the challenges that still
face those who seek a world of justice and peace.  He showed us that anger at
injustice can be combined with courage to create real hope for a better world.
Let us address the injustices of continuing racism, materialism and militarism
with the courage and hope that Dr. King displayed in his brief life.