Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

AS ROME BURNS

ABC News has reported that following the historic Wall Street bailout, welfare queens from AIG insurance company headed for this luxury report and spa called St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California. Rooms at the joint roll in at $1,000 per night. Poor bastards, I'm sorry that they have to slum it after so much worry and fright. I can imagine the champagne corks were popping all night long.

The "retreat" reportedly cost AIG, or should I say you the taxpayer, about $440,000. But don't worry the Democrats in Congress are on the case and are going to make sure that the staff at the resort gets fairly tipped. After all the Dems are looking out for the "working class".

Speaking of things that drive you crazy......

Last night I went to a "candidates debate" in my town for those running for the state legislature. The debate was hosted by a local environmental group to discuss what can be done to deal with the reality of rising oil prices and the need to develop an alternative energy policy at the state level. It was pitiful.

There were six of the politicos there (from both corporate parties) and they all agreed that yes we must do something this winter and beyond because home heating oil prices have doubled since last winter.

Some of their ideas included:

* Neighbor must look out for neighbor
* More tax incentives for investment in wind and solar (the investor class gets subsidized for saving energy while the poor and working class get nothing)
* More government bonding (which means the towns or state borrow money from the big banks paying big interest) for investment in sustainable technology development
* Public transportation would be nice, especially for senior citizens
* Maine has lots of wood
* Home weatherization would be nice and we need programs to train energy auditors because we don't have enough of them in the state. (Maine's old wooden homes are filled with holes.)
* Big business will see the potential for profit in sustainable energy production and will ride in and rescue us

Needless to say I wanted to cry.

The audience (with 1 or 2 exemptions) asked very mild questions and the questions from the moderator were very mild and furnished to the candidates in advance.

Near the end of the evening I raised my hand and suggested that with Maine's present fiscal crisis the state (and federal government for that matter) had little money to offer in solving these problems. But, I contended, the Pentagon controls 54% of every federal tax dollar and if we converted the global war machine we'd have lots of money for dealing with these problems........

Then I quickly ran through, the moderator was rushing me along because she wanted to get home to watch the Obama-McCain debate, the numbers from the University of Mass-Amherst Economics Dept. study that reported when we spend $1 billion on military production we get 8,555 jobs in the "defense" industry but that same amount of money put into home weatherization would yield 12,804 jobs or put into building mass transit systems would yield 19,795 jobs. We need jobs in Maine, right?

"OK, what is your question," the moderator impatiently asked.

My question I said is when are local politicians going to start calling for the conversion of the military industrial complex?

Oh, boy....someone farted in church again.

Blank stares except from one Republican who grabbed the microphone and went into a trip about how 9-11 showed we need to protect the country and since then we have not been attacked.....

Then more blank stares.

Previously every politician (or wanna-be politician) had something to say about every question. Not this time.

OK, we are outta her said the moderator but to her credit Karen Wainberg, one of the organizers of the event, stood up and said I want someone to answer this question.

So Tom Watson, a Democrat legislator from Bath, said yeah I am against the war but when we passed a resolution in Augusta a couple of years ago it created a controversy and it stopped all business for two weeks (it did not) and then everyone ignored it so there is nothing we can do from the state level.

One other guy basically said, "If you want change make sure you vote in the upcoming election." Another Democrat said its a federal problem and we are in the state legislature. Not our job.

I stumbled out of Bath City Hall into the chilly night warmed by my rising blood pressure. I was thinking about peak oil, thinking about Maine facing gasoline prices of $5, $6, $7, $8 a gallon with no public transit to speak of........

I was thinking about the Democratic-Republican party agreement to create a "lock box" around the military budget as America's human and physical infrastructure collapses. I was thinking that these politicians are weak and afraid of their own shadow - they are living in a dream world. The crash is coming hard and they are fiddling around.

I later heard that Tom Watson told Karen after the event was over that when he goes door-to-door looking for votes virtually everyone is asking him about the Iraq occupation. But he remains quiet because it is a federal problem.

The "ignorant" voters know what the hell is going on but the corporate dominated politicians keep their mouths shut for fear of losing their seats in "power". They play the go-along to get-along game.

And in the meantime Rome burns.

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