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

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Spanish moss hanging from oak trees in Florida

I have many fond memories from my 30 years in Florida. I miss old friends from those days, the ocean and spring-fed rivers for swimming and the old stately oak and pecan trees with the Spanish moss hanging from them. One thing I don't miss is the politics there though. Recently the developers spent $20 million to defeat a referendum that would have put some restraint on the overwhelmingly aggressive building industry.

The new Tea Party-Republican Gov. Rick Scott is out to destroy the state. He and the Republican legislature are shifting state money from the unemployed to corporations. New legislation will cut benefits for the unemployed to just 23 weeks, the lowest in America. The money taken from the unemployment insurance program will be given to corporations in the form of tax cuts. Florida has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, currently at 11.1%.

In another move by Gov. Scott, he has declined a federal public transit grant of more than $2 billion to build a high-speed rail line between Orlando and Tampa. Scott maintained he didn't want to have to pay Florida's share of the rail line costs - especially since he wants to give more tax cuts to corporations. Some years ago, while living in Florida, I was able to vote in favor of a statewide referendum that mandated that Florida build a statewide high-speed transit system. Successive administrations in the state government have ignored that voter demand. Several states in the northeast will instead get this rail money including Maine who will receiver about $22 million to extend service from Boston to nearby Brunswick.

Proving that Florida is fast becoming a corporate colony, Florida State University (FSU), the state funded institution in Tallahassee, will soon be run by minions of the right-wing Koch brothers. Mother Jones magazine reports:

A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University’s economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting “political economy and free enterprise.”

Traditionally, university donors have little official input into choosing the person who fills a chair they’ve funded. The power of university faculty and officials to choose professors without outside interference is considered a hallmark of academic freedom.

Under the agreement with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, however, faculty only retain the illusion of control. The contract specifies that an advisory committee appointed by Koch decides which candidates should be considered. The foundation can also withdraw its funding if it’s not happy with the faculty’s choice or if the hires don’t meet “objectives” set by Koch during annual evaluations.

It was the Koch brothers, hailing from Texas, who bankrolled many of the Tea Party candidates for governor that won across the nation last November. They had their soiled hands in the Maine race that brought Tea Party favorite Paul LePage into office.

It's a sad day for Florida when that once beautiful state is being chopped to pieces and handed over to the corporate interests. One of my longest friends there, John Hedrick who has been an organizer and poor people's lawyer since the late 70's, has spent most of his life working for growth management, public transit, and justice for working and poor people. I know his heart is crying.

Here is a bit of taste of how that big chest of right-wing Tea Party $$$ is being spent "training" new generations of their "warriors".


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