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: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Friday, May 01, 2015

The Soul of Our Nation is Rotting

Boarded up row houses in Baltimore poor neighborhoods

The poor in Baltimore, Maryland have essentially forced the state to prosecute six cops for the death of Freddie Gray. Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby has announced that the death of Gray has been ruled a homicide and that criminal charges will be pursued. The protests in that city have no doubt ensured that the legal system had to put these cops on trial.  The solidarity protests in New York City and across the nation were also instrumental in pushing this decision.

But don't think for a minute though that the larger issue of poverty, unemployment, declining education and public services in Baltimore's black community will also be on the table for discussion and reform.  In fact things are heading towards total collapse there and in poor communities across the nation.

The Washington Post reports:

Inequality in Baltimore has been thrust into the national spotlight this week, with riots and civil unrest in that city following the funeral of Freddie Gray. This inequality has roots that stretch deep into the past. It's been exasperated by bad policy decisions in the present-day. And it makes itself felt in every aspect of life in the city, from the racial composition of neighborhoods to the number of empty houses standing in them.
For another illustration, let's look at a hypothetical case of two babies born on the same day this year in Baltimore. One is born in Roland Park, a wealthy neighborhood in the north of the city. The other is born just three miles away in Downtown/Seton Hill, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods.
The Roland Park baby will most likely live to the age of 84, well above the U.S. average of 79. The Seton Hill baby, on the other hand, can expect to die 19 years earlier at the age of 65. 

There is so much poverty in Baltimore that people can't afford to pay their utility bills.  Thus like in Detroit, the city of Baltimore is now planning to shut off life-giving water supplies for those who can't afford to pay.  This is just one step toward privatization of water in cities across the nation as the corporations attempt to take control of H2O.  The corporations know that if they control water and control food then they will have the people locked in a state of slavery.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

Baltimore officials are sending turn-off notices to 25,000 delinquent water customers, giving them 10 days to pay long overdue bills or face the loss of water service.

The customers — both residential and commercial users in the city and Baltimore County — together owe more than $40 million in long-unpaid bills, said Public Works director Rudy Chow. He said officials decided it was time to crack down on the growing problem of accounts that go unpaid for months or even years.

There is a reason poor people protest and even riot.  It is ultimately an appeal to the morality and sense of justice of the nation - a cry for help.  The unemployment rate among African Americans is nearly double the national rate. An Urban League report in 2013 revealed the unemployment rate of black male teenagers in the city of Chicago was at an astounding 92%.  That number is likely to be about the same in most major cities as jobs have gone overseas and the federal government has slashed youth job programs in order to move the $$$$ into the Pentagon's endless war budget.

There will be more clashes like Baltimore in the near future because the nation refuses to deal with the intentional structural breakdown of employment and income distribution.  In fact it is getting worse as the wealthiest people and corporations continue to get more tax cuts at the local, state and national levels. The rich are hunkering down and stashing as much money as they can.

In 1858 speaking of slavery Abe Lincoln said that, "A house divided against itself cannot stand".  The words first came from Jesus in Matthew 12:25, "And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." 

How in hell can the American people think our nation can stand while millions of our people live in grinding poverty?  What does it say about the soul of our nation that this is allowed to happen?  What does it say about our collective souls when we blame the victims and ignore the institutional barriers set up in this country to keep people down?


Blogger greencrow said...

Good Post. Americans who reflect on the structural causes of Freddie's death are on the right track. The PTB do not seem to have any awareness of how the world is regarding this story and how it reflects on the US. They still do not get it... and are still thinking that people will forget about Freddie and the US "justice system" in a few weeks. They don't understand there has been a sea's over. Humanity has rejected them and their work.

5/1/15, 2:40 PM  

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