Saturday, January 26, 2008

935 Bush Administration lies, emergency legislation provisions, and getting the Judiciary Committee to act

Hi Impeachment People & Greens:

There are 3 articles here:
1) First an article on a study of the Administration's lies about Iraq from Sept 11, 2001 to March, 2003, to justify the occupation of Iraq find 935 lies, 259 of them by Bush, 254 by Powell, the rest by Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Fleischer, and McClellan. This documentation should be good for impeachment, for fraud cases against them, and for crimes against peace under the Nuremberg rules.

2) Another prime example of Congress giving Bush anything he asks for is H Res 5, in which Congress yet again gives away its power, this time by allowing as few as a dozen legislators pass legislation—for instance, to declare war—whenever the rest of Congress doesn't show up.

3) Bob Feuer on getting the Judiciary Committee to act.

Richard Duffee


1) 935 lies:
Study: False Statements Preceded War


Email this Story

Jan 23, 6:43 AM (ET)

By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL


(AP) President Bush addresses the media in the Roosevelt Room of the
White House in Washington, Tuesday,...
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WASHINGTON (AP) - A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations
found that President Bush and top administration officials issued
hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from
Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated
campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the
process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."
The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public
Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of
the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position
that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a
threat.
"The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of
intelligence agencies around the world," Stanzel said.
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It
found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush
and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532
occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to
produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.
"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of
mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to
Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in
Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short,
the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of
erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that
culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."
Named in the study along with Bush were top officials of the
administration during the period studied: Vice President Dick Cheney,
national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald
H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and
Scott McClellan.
Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida, the study
found. That was second only to Powell's 244 false statements about
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaida.
The center said the study was based on a database created with public
statements over the two years beginning on Sept. 11, 2001, and
information from more than 25 government reports, books, articles,
speeches and interviews.
"The cumulative effect of these false statements - amplified by
thousands of news stories and broadcasts - was massive, with the media
coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical
months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.
"Some journalists - indeed, even some entire news organizations - have
since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was
far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas notwithstanding,
much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional,
'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements
about Iraq," it said.
---
On the Net:
Center For Public Integrity: http://www.publicintegrity.org/default.aspx
Fund For Independence in Journalism: http://www.tfij.org/

2) Congress roles over and plays dead again:
'DOOMSDAY' LEGISLATION


Handful of Congressmen Could Rule America in Event of Catastrophe


By Greg Szymanski



No longer do Capitol Hill legislators need a quorum to do the people's
business. Now under a piece of hotly contested legislation passed
without media attention on Jan. 5, only a few members of Congress are
needed to do official business in the event of a catastrophe instead
of the usual 218.


Critics claim H. Res. 5 paves the way for tyranny, allowing "only a
few to decide for so many."

The provision states: "If the House should be without a quorum due to
catastrophic circumstances, then . . . until there appear in the House
a sufficient number of representatives to constitute a quorum among
the whole number of the House, a quorum in the House shall be
determined based upon the provisional number of the House; and . . .
the provisional number of the House, as of the close of the call of
the House . . . shall be the number of representatives responding to
that call of the House."

Supporters claim the bill, passed "under the cover of congressional
darkness," is intended to allow the government to "continue operating"
in the event of a catastrophic emergency or terrorist attack. However,
constitutional experts say the law is blatantly unconstitutional and
ripe for challenge.

Normally, 218 lawmakers out of the 435 members are needed to declare
war, pass laws and validly conduct the people's business. But under
the new rule a majority is no longer needed when circumstances arise,
including natural disaster, attack, contagion or terrorist attacks
rendering representatives incapable of attending House proceedings.

"It's another measure brought up by lawmakers that shows their callous
disregard for democracy," said one California attorney who preferred
to remain anonymous.


GOP House leaders pushed the controversial "doomsday legislation"
through for passage as a part of a hefty and voluminous rules package.
It drew little attention and was probably not even discovered by many
who voted on it since the rules package centered on recent ethics
violations.

"I think the new rule is disgusting, terrible and unconstitutional,"
said Norm Ornstein, of an independent, bipartisan panel called the
Continuity of Government Commission which is studying the issue. "The
way it was passed was deceitful and the intent behind the legislation
was very foolish."

Rep. Brian Baird, (D-Wash.) agrees, arguing that the rule change
violates the Constitution, which specifically states: "a majority of
each Chamber shall constitute a quorum to do business."

"Allowing for as few as 12 lawmakers to make vital decisions and to
possibly declare war on another nation is not what this country is all
about."

3) Bob Feuer on making progress in the Judiciary Committee:
I called the HJC about 4 pm, Tuesday 1/22. I asked the young aid if the
phones had been busy. He said quite honestly that they had been quiet
today. Please get the word out we need to be hammering the congressional
switchboards all this week.

Take back our democratic republic.

Posted by Bob Feuer at 1/23/2008 1:06 AM

and is filed under Letters to the Editor
9VYHmS8KFHlTcYLBeHNw.aspx>
r-democratic-republic/print.aspx'>

Take back our democratic republic
Letters
back%20our%20democratic%20republic>
Article Last Updated: 01/22/2008 10:16:39 AM EST

Tuesday, January 22

The excuses for not impeaching given by Congressman Olver and his
Democratic Party leaders, are all a pack of nonsense. Aside from their
obliteration of the FISA Act, and the House's landslide passage of H.
Res. 1955, the "thought crimes bill," and for past 12 months, this 110th
Congress has failed to pass any significant domestic legislation. Nor
has it made any progress towards ending the war. In the history of the
nine prior impeachment proceedings against U.S. presidents, and without
fail, the impeaching party prevails in the next presidential election.

Rather this 110th Congress has further denigrated our unalienable and
constitutional rights through the July modification of the FISA act, and
the October passage (404-6) of the Anti Home-Grown Terrorism bill, H.
Res. 1955, the unconstitutional "thought crimes bill." Further, and
during the past year, the 110th Congress has appropriated in billions of
dollars, $79 interim, $197 for FY-'08, and $555 additional just last
week. Only $10 billion of the latter appropriation was earmarked for
domestic spending. To this, President Bush admonished the 110th for
overspending on domestic issues. All the rest of the $821 billion has
without accountancy or any strings been handed over to Bush and Cheney's
War Department for funneling to their contractor friends at Halliburton,
Blackwater, Carlyle Group, and the like. Profiting from death and
destruction, and with this astronomical windfall, through private equity
deals, these corporations have amassed ownership through the largest
buyouts in U.S. corporate history.

When Congressman Charlie Wilson got his Congress to appropriate $500
million, the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
Our 110th Congress appropriated 1,642 times as many dollars for the
endless "War on Terrorism" in 2007, and we are no closer to an
international resolve than we were during the sitting of the 109th Congress.

Deadlines are more than merely in order. Our national finances are in
grave jeopardy, our banking system is on the brink of failure, as is our
health care system, jobs growth, housing markets, and electoral system.
With all time high commodities prices, inflation is assured, and in
response, the Fed will have to raise interest rates. This will put the
nails in our banking system's coffin. We, the People, must take a stand,
take back our government, work together to clean up this mess, or accept
this awful fate without a whimper.

Prescribed by our Founders, inscribed and intricately woven six times
into our Constitution, impeachment is imperatively the only path towards
a re-balancing of our separate but equal branches of government. As
self-rule has decayed, much uglier forms of authority grow in its place.
It is time to wake up, smell the coffee, coalesce, and act together to
take back the night falling on our democratic republic.

ROBERT A. FEUER
Stockbridge

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

January 15 & 16 is Impeachment Call-in Day

Hi Folks,
This is the culmination of John Nirenberg's walk from Fanueil Hall in
Boston adn Wexler's drive to get the Judiciary Committee to begin
investigating Cheney. Please help out. It's the best chance we've got
now.
Richard

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Emily West <emiwest@comcast.net>
Date: Jan 15, 2008 1:05 PM
Subject: January 15 & 16 is Impeachment Call-in Day
To: emiwest@gmail.com

Dear Impeachment Activists,

Take 10 minutes today and/or tomorrow to make a difference in saving
your democracy and the US Constitution. I just called the short list
(highlighted in bold blue) and it took me exactly 9 minutes to leave
my messages. Tomorrow I'll call the rest of them on my lunch hour, 10
minutes of my 60 minute break.

When Congress returns to Washington today, Congressman Robert Wexler
plans to present his fellow members of the House Judiciary Committee
with the list of signatures (now about 200,000) from his petition at
http://www.wexlerwantshearings.com

and a request to join him in
signing a letter to Chairman John Conyers asking for Cheney
impeachment hearings to begin. Joining him are Tammy Baldwin and Luis
Gutierrez, along with the original co-sponsors of the impeachment bill
which you will find below.

You can make a difference by calling (or writing or faxing) these
members of the House Judiciary Committee reminding them of their duty
to the American people, to our democracy, and to their oath to support
the US Constitution by passing the impeachment resolution H Res 799 to
remove Dick Cheney from office.

Here are the details of the resolution if you need them:
http://kucinich.house.gov/SpotlightIssues/documents.htm

House Judiciary Committee (Democrats):

Hon. John Conyers (D) Michigan, 14th

2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5126
Fax: (202) 225-0072

Hon. John Conyers

669 Federal Building
231 W. Lafayette
Detroit, MI 48226
Phone: (313) 961-5670
Fax: (313) 226-2085

________________

Hon. Howard L. Berman (D) California, 28th
2221 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4695
Fax: (202) 225-3196

Hon. Howard L. Berman

14546 Hamlin Street, Suite 202
Van Nuys, CA 91411
Phone: (818) 994-7200
Fax: (818) 994-1050

_________________

Hon. Richard Boucher (D) Virginia, 9th
2187 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: 202-225-3861
Fax: 202-225-0442

Hon. Richard Boucher

1 Cloverleaf Square, Suite C-1
Big Stone Gap, Virginia 24219
Phone: 276-523-5450
_________________


Hon. Jerrold Nadler (D) New York, 8th
2334 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Phone: 202-225-5635

Hon. Jerrold Nadler

201 Varick Street, Suite 669
New York, NY 10014
Phone: 212-367-7350

_________________

Hon. Robert C. Scott (D) Virginia, 3rd
1201 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-8351
Fax: (202) 225-8354

Hon. Robert C. Scott

The Jackson Center
501 N. 2nd Street Suite 401
Richmond, VA 23219-1321
Phone: (804) 644-4845
Fax: (804) 648-6026

_________________

Hon. Melvin L. Watt (D) North Carolina, 12th
2236 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-3312
Phone: (202) 225-1510
Fax: (202) 225-1512

Hon. Melvin L. Watt

1230 W. Morehead St., Suite 306
Charlotte, NC 28208-5214
Phone: (704) 344-9950
Fax: (704) 344-9971

_________________

Hon. Zoe Lofgren (D) California, 16th
102 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3072
Fax: (202) 225-3336

Hon. Zoe Lofgren

635 N. First Street, Suite B
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 271-8700
Fax: (408) 271-8713

_________________

Hon. Sheila Jackson Lee (D) Texas, 18th
2435 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3816
Fax: (202) 225-3317

Hon. Sheila Jackson Lee

1919 Smith Street, Suite 1180
Houston, Texas 77002
Phone: (713) 655-0050
Fax: (713) 655-1612
_________________


Hon. Maxine Waters (D) California, 35th

2344 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0535
Phone: (202) 225-2201
Fax: (202) 225-7854

Hon. Maxine Waters

6033 West Century Blvd. Suite 807
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Phone: (310) 642-4610
Fax: (310) 642-9160

_________________

Hon. William Delahunt (D) Massachusetts, 10th

2454 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-3111
Fax: 202-225-5658

Hon. William Delahunt

1250 Hancock Street, Suite 802-N
Quincy, MA 02169
Phone: 617-770-3700
Toll-Free: 800-794-9911
Fax: 617-770-2984

__________________

Hon. Robert Wexler (D) Florida, 19th
2241 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3001
Fax: (202) 225-5974

Hon. Robert Wexler

Margate City Hall
5790 Margate Blvd.
Margate, FL 33063
Phone: (954) 972-6454
Fax: (954) 974-3191

_________________

Hon. Linda T. Sánchez (D) California, 39th
1222 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Phone: (202) 225-6676


Hon. Linda T. Sánchez

17906 Crusader Ave. Ste. 100

Cerritos, CA 90703

Phone: (562) 860-5050

_________________


Hon. Steven Cohen (D) Tennessee, 9th
1004 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3265
Fax: (202) 225-5663

Hon. Steven Cohen

167 North Main Street, Suite 369
Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 544-4131
Fax: (901) 544-4329

__________________

Hon. Hank Johnson (D) Georgia, 4th
1133 Longworth House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-1605
Fax: (202) 226-0691

Hon. Hank Johnson

5700 Hillandale Dr. Suite 110
Lithonia, GA 30058
Phone: (770) 987-2291
Fax: (770) 987-8721

_________________

Hon. Betty Sutton (D) Ohio, 13th
1721 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3401
Fax: (202) 225-2266

Hon. Betty Sutton

1655 West Market Street, Room 435
Akron, OH 44313
Phone: (330) 865-8450
Fax: (330) 865-8470

_________________

Hon. Luis Gutierrez (D) Illinois, 4th
2266 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-8203
Fax: (202) 225-7810

Hon. Luis Gutierrez

3455 W. North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647
Phone: (773) 384-1655
Fax: (773) 384-1685

_________________

Hon. Brad Sherman (D) California, 27
2242 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515-0524
Phone: (202) 225-5911
Fax: (202) 225-5879

Hon. Brad Sherman

5000 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 420
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Phone: (818) 501-9200
Fax: (818) 501-1554

__________________

Hon. Tammy Baldwin (D) Wisconsin, 2nd
2446 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2906
Fax: (202) 225-6942

Hon. Tammy Baldwin

10 East Doty Street, Suite 405
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
Phone: (608) 258-9800
Fax: (608) 258-9808

_________________

Hon. Anthony D. Weiner (D) New York, 9th
1122 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6616

Hon. Anthony D. Weiner

1800 Sheepshead Bay Road
Brooklyn, NY 11235
Phone: (718) 743-0441

__________________

Hon. Adam Schiff (D) California, 29th
326 Cannon House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515

Phone: (202) 225-4176
Fax: (202) 225-5828

Hon. Adam Schiff

87 N. Raymond Ave. #800
Pasadena, CA 91103
Phone: (626) 304-2727
Fax: (626) 304-0572

__________________

Hon. Artur Davis (D) Alabama, 7th
208 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2665
Fax: (202) 226-9567

Hon. Artur Davis

Two 20th Street North, Suite #1130
Birmingham, AL 35203
Phone: (205) 254-1960
Fax: (205) 254-1974

__________________

Hon. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) Florida, 20th
118 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-7931
Fax: 202-226-2052

Hon. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

10100 Pines Blvd.
Pembroke Pines, FL 33026
Phone: 954-437-3936
Fax: 954-437-4776

_________________

Hon. Keith Ellison (D) Minnesota, 5th

1130 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4755
Fax: (202) 225-4886

Hon. Keith Ellison

2100 Plymouth Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55411
Phone: (612) 522-1212
Fax: (612) 522-9915

The House Judiciary Committee website is:
http://judiciary.house.gov/CommitteeMembership.aspx

House Judiciary Committee (Republicans):

Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-5) (202)225-5101

Howard Coble (NC-6) (202)225-3065

Elton Gallegly (CA-24) (202)225-5811

Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) (202)225-5431

Steve Chabot (OH-1) (202)225-2216

Dan Lungren (CA-3) 202-225-5716

Chris Cannon (UT-3) (202)225-7751

Ric Keller (FL-8) (202)225-2176

Darrell Issa (CA-49) (202)225-3906

Mike Pence (IN-6) (202) 225-3021

Randy Forbes (VA-4) (202)225-6365

Steve King (IA-5) (202)225-4426

Tom Feeney (FL-24) (202)225-2706

Trent Franks (AZ-2) (202)225-4576

Louie Gohmert (TX-1) (202)225-3035

Jim Jordan (OH-4) (202)225-2676

Cosponsors of H Res 799:

Here are the cosponsors of H Res 799 (previously 333), introduced by
Kucinich, which seeks to impeach Cheney. The cosponsors are listed
below, with dates they signed on. They deserve medals of honor for
their willingness to tell the truth, not to mention their bravery in
the face of this political fiasco and neocon corporatist coup of our
federal system.

Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 5/1/2007

Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 5/1/2007

Rep Wynn, Albert Russell [MD-4] - 5/10/2007

Rep Clarke, Yvette D. [NY-11] - 6/6/2007

Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 6/7/2007

Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 6/7/2007

Rep Waters, Maxine [CA-35] - 6/12/2007

Rep Johnson, Henry C. "Hank," Jr. [GA-4] - 6/28/2007

Rep Ellison, Keith [MN-5] - 6/28/2007

Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] - 7/10/2007

Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 7/10/2007

Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] - 7/12/2007

Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 7/12/2007

Rep Brady, Robert A. [PA-1] - 7/24/2007

Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 8/1/2007

Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] - 8/1/200

Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] - 8/4/2007

Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] - 8/4/2007

Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13] - 9/7/2007

Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10] - 9/27/2007

Actual hand written letters, phone calls and/or faxes are the most
effective right now, not emails. Sending handwritten letters to the
Congressperson's local address is preferable, however, if you want to
write. Anthrax checks at the DC offices only slow the mail down by
about two weeks - this does not stop them. The need for impeachment
has languished for several years so two weeks of "checking" makes no
difference.

If you haven't written Nancy Pelosi write her first. Send to her San
Fran address.

Pass this resolution and we move on to impeach George Bush.

Thank you for all that you do for your country and your children's future.

Write to:
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
450 Golden Gate Avenue, 14th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 556-4862

OR

Call DC right now and leave her a message:

(202) 225-4965

Keep the DC switchboard number handy: 202-224-3121

Show them your outrage!

Impeach for Peace,

Emily West

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal."
---Martin Luther King

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Green nomination, "Cheney's Law, ACLU impeachment resolution

1) On Sunday the Green Party of Fairfield County nominated me to run
for Congress. Apparently some papers have reported this but I have not
seen the articles yet. David Bedell's press release is good (see below
at 1), but do not expect it to be printed without alteration. Do not
expect the event to have been well reported and do not expect
quotations to be accurate.

For the next week or so my postings are likely to be brief and I
probably will not find time to answer everything I have received since
Sunday morning. There's a lot of organizing to do. If you would like
to take over some work on this listserve, please let me know.

2) Tonight at 9 pm Pbs aired Frontline's program, "Cheney's Law." It
is the most informative single tv program I have seen on the Cheney
and his effect on the Bush Administration. You can watch it on
Pbs.org; go to "Cheney's Law" on Frontline and you will also find a
lot of background information and documentation not included in the
program itself. Our understanding of what the Constitution says is on
checks and balances and limitations on powers is exactly contrary to
Cheney's. Cheney is so extreme on secrecy and the absolute powers of
the presidency—the purity of "imperial presidency," i.e.,
dictatorship—that eventually even John Ashcroft sided with us. (This
is the complete message.)

3) Please contact the ACLU to pass a resolution to impeach. See below.

Richard Duffee
Detailed Material:
1) Press release on nomination:

Here is David Bedell's press release and the ACLU message:

1) GREEN PARTY NOMINATES RICHARD DUFFEE IN 4TH DISTRICT
Candidate Will Challenge Shays and Himes


NORWALK, CT—On Sunday afternoon, members of the Green Party met at the
Norwalk Library to select a candidate for Congress from the 4th
District. They nominated Richard Duffee of Stamford, a retired lawyer
and impeachment activist.

He will run for the seat currently occupied by Republican Christopher
Shays, which is also being contested by Democrat Jim Himes.

Another candidate, solar energy engineer/designer Gerald Falbel of
Stamford, sought the Green nomination but failed to garner support.
Several caucus participants voted for the option "None of the Above"
in lieu of a candidate, but the majority supported Duffee's
nomination.

When asked his reasons for running, Duffee cited the need to reverse
the current Iraq war policies, to prevent war against Iran, and to
counter the Bush administration's environmental legacy and failure to
address global warming or public safety threats such as the nearby
Indian Point nuclear power plant.

Congress Has Failed to Impeach

Above all, however, Duffee decided to run because Congress has not
used its power of impeachment to end what he describes as the criminal
activities of George Bush and Dick Cheney. "I believe the current
Congress has not taken seriously the oath of office to defend the
Constitution. We are in a constitutional crisis that cannot end until
we repudiate empire and imperial presidencies and return to our
Republic.

"We need a government based on trust, openness, honesty, and
disinterested public action. It is clear that Bush and Cheney regard
us not as citizens, but as subjects, using all the techniques of
ruling an empire—secrecy, deceit, betrayal, fraud, mystification, and
violence. These are inherently incompatible with the moral
prerequisites for maintaining a Republic based on the rule of law.

"Christopher Shays is guilty of breaching his oath of office by
supporting a criminal president and vice president. He may be guilty
of crimes against peace in his pursuit of the Iraq War."

Duffee has started a campaign blog at http://richardduffee.blogspot.com.

Minor parties such as the Green Party have to petition their way onto
the ballot, and if they do not run a candidate in any given year, then
they lose their ballot line for that office.

For the Congressional seat, Duffee's supporters will have until early
August to collect at least 2100 signatures of voters in the 4th
District.

* * *

Richard Duffee on the issues:

• Health care: "There's nothing wrong with the Canadian single-payer
plan—the vast majority of Canadian citizens are happy with
it—including the doctors."

• Jobs: "We can make jobs the way FDR did in 1932, this time by hiring
people to do insulation, solar power, wind power, geothermal,
retrofitting, and so on, and making it available to everyone at cost
the way the GI bill made housing available to veterans after World War
II."

• Foreign policy: "We should comply strictly with all the provisions
of international law we created but now disavow. We should comply with
the United Nations Charter, the Nuremberg rules, the Geneva Accords,
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 1996 International Court of
Justice opinion that nuclear weapons are illegal, and fully fund the
UN, help it reform so it can function, and behave as a normal
law-abiding nation—which Article 6 of our Constitution says we are
supposed to be."

• Global warming: "Global warming is lethal. Several factors—loss of
rainforests, collapse of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica,
exacerbation of El Niño—may make exponential heat spikes that will
cause drought so severe that no one can survive it, flooding great
enough to wipe out vast coastal areas and whole nations, horrific
storms, sudden freezes, and such chaotically unpredictable weather
that no agriculture can succeed."

(2) "Cheney's Law" notice is complete above. Go to Pbs.org.)

3) Tell ACLU to Impeach

The Central Susquehanna Chapter of the ACLU joined the Southern
California and several Florida chapters in urging the national board
to request the House Judiciary Committee to begin investigations into
whether impeachment against VP Cheney and President Bush is warranted.
Has your local ACLU chapter passed a similar resolution? If not,
contact them <http://www.aclu.org/affiliates/>
demanding they do so. Also, contact the national organization
<http://aclu.org/contact/general/index.html>
demanding they do the same!

Resolution

Central Susquehanna Chapter of Pennsylvania

American Civil Liberties Union

WHEREAS: Vice President Richard B. Cheney and President George W.
Bush may have deliberately, knowingly, and maliciously violated the
provisions of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth
Amendments of the Constitution of the United States. And,

WHEREAS: Vice President Richard B. Cheney and President George W.
Bush may have deliberately, knowingly, and maliciously violated the
provisions of Article One, Section 9 (The right of habeas corpus) of
the Constitution of the United States. And,

WHEREAS: The American Civil Liberties Union is among the leading
organizations to preserve the protections and guarantees under the
Constitution of the United States of America. And,

WHEREAS: The American Civil Liberties Union among other
organizations has documented violations of the Constitution of the
United States of America. And,

WHEREAS: The federal courts have ruled against the Bush -- Cheney
Administration in several constitutional cases. And,

WHEREAS: Vice President Richard B. Cheney and President George W.
Bush have directly or indirectly acknowledged to having directed
numerous actions that are contrary to the principles and Constitution
of the United States of America, including the use of torture on
prisoners, the creation of "extraordinary rendition," the
implementation of warrantless and illegal wiretapping, the suppression
of freedom of expression and due process, and the destruction of
evidence. AND,

WHEREAS: The ACLU of Southern California and the Florida chapters
(ACLU of Florida, ACLU of Monroe County, ACLU of the Treasure Coast,
ACLU of Central Florida) of the American Civil Liberties Union have
filed resolutions to urge the National Board of the American Civil
Liberties Union to strongly urge the Congress of the United States to
determine if there is sufficient evidence to draw up Articles of
Impeachment against Vice President Richard B. Cheney and President
George W. Bush.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: That the Board of the Central Susquehanna
Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union joins with its
colleagues of the Southern California chapter and of the Florida
chapters in urging the National Board of the American Civil Liberties
Union to call for the convening of hearings by the Judiciary Committee
of the House of Representatives to determine if sufficient evidence
exists to pursue Articles of Impeachment against Vice President
Richard B. Cheney and President George W. Bush. AND,

FURTHER, BE IT RESOLVED: That the Board of the Central Susquehanna
Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union makes its wishes known
to the ACLU of Pennsylvania and to the National Board of the ACLU.
AND,

FURTHER, BE IT RESOLVED: That the Board of the Central Susquehanna
chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union independently calls for
the impeachments of Vice President Richard B. Cheney and President
George W. Bush.

Dated this Eleventh Day of January in the year of two thousand and
eight.

(Signed, on behalf of the Central Susquehanna Chapter of the
American Civil Liberties Union)

ANTHONY TOLUBA, President

DAVID YOUNG, Vice-President and Secretary

WALTER M. BRASCH, PH.D., Senior Vice President

PAULA COCHRAN, Vice President

NATHANIEL MITCHELL, Vice President

MARGARET G. MITCHELL, Communications Coordinator and Member of the
Board

THE REV. ROBIN H. JARRELL, M.DIV, Member of the Board

JOSEPH MANZI, Member of the Board

DOUGLAS STURM, PH.D., Member of the Board

(You can contact the Ct. Civil Liberties Union at
32 Grand Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
860-247-9823 (main)
860-728-0287 (fax)
info@acluct.org)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Green Party Congressional Candidate Questionnaire

Hi, Greens and Impeachment People:
The Green nominating convention is at 1 pm TODAY, Sunday, January 13,
at the Norwalk Public Library auditorium, 1 Belden Place, Norwalk.
Hope you will come. All currently registered Greens of the 4th
Congressional District (which is ALMOST the same as Fairfield County)
can vote.

The Connecticut Green website defines eligibility to vote more broadly
than most parties do:
1. Individual Membership (Modified by statewide vote in 2001):
Anyone registered to vote as a Green is a Green Party member.
In addition, anyone who can satisfy (and verify) at least 2 of the
following criteria will be considered a Green Party member:
1. have attended 2 meetings of the Green Party (either state meetings
or meetings of an officially recognized chapter) within the past 12
months;
2. are on the state's official mailing list; and/or have submitted a
written (or email) request for membership or informational materials
from the Party;
3. have performed at least 2 volunteer activities with the Green Party
(or with a coalition partner) of the Green Party within the past 12
months.

But Fairfield Green records show few people who qualify this year by 2
of those three means.

To assist the discussion, I have filled out this form originally made
up by the New Haven Greens:

Green Party Congressional Candidate Questionnaire

Economic Policies

1. What is your position on free trade?
The US industrialized while protecting itself. Now we demand free
trade, but we're hypocritical about it. Instead of using tariffs, we
force the devaluation of the currencies of poor countries by getting
them in debt, then demanding they repay in dollars. The effect is to
put entire countries on bargain-basement sales while we drain their
economies. Over time, there is as much cruelty in this as in warfare.
In India, for example, mostly US-built (largely Bechtel) dams have
made 45 million people homeless. This is a holocaust we don't even
think of.
Meanwhile we subsidize our agriculture while railing if anyone else does.
The IMF should certainly be abolished. Probably the WTO should be, and
perhaps the World Bank too. The Fed should be. All these institutions
are purely plutocratic and anti-democratic.

2. What can the federal government do to create jobs?
It can do what it did under Roosevelt. There are huge numbers of jobs
to be created under environmental auspices—renovating houses,
insulating them, creating solar, wind, and geothermal energy--and mass
transportation. To reduce global warming, we should use the same kinds
of bills that were used after World War II to give vets housing and
education: everyone should be able to buy private non-polluting energy
sources at cost, recoup the money by selling to the grid, and get
energy back from the grid when one's own energy source is not
productive. We should decentralize energy as much as possible so we
can shut down nuclear power and pollutant-emitting power plants.
We should enormously expand the Peace Corps and Vista, particularly so
that we can begin to learn about and ameliorate Third World and US
poverty. We are the most provincial empire that has ever existed, and
are in peril because of our ignorance and callousness.

3. What is your federal tax policy?
I believe exploitation is real, that most contracts are contracts of
adhesion in one way or another, and that the theory of surplus value
is substantially true. I believe that of the two sources of increased
wealth, increased productivity and transfer, the rich have come more
and more to rely on mere transfer, and that now most of the increases
of their wealth represent some form of cheating customers, underpaying
and coercing employees, and cheating competitors and upstream and
downstream businesses—not increased productivity. Businesses should
have to identify whether their income arises from productivity or
transfer, and they should be taxed in proportion to the percentage
that is from transfer.
Because I believe so many of the ways money is now earned are immoral,
exploitative, and wasteful, I believe all regressive taxes are bad and
nearly all flat taxes are. It may be possible to have a flat tax that
has high enough exemptions for the poor to be tolerable, but I am not
yet convinced. Progressive taxes still seem best to me; I think the
prosperity of the country from World War II through the 1960's was
largely due to high corporate taxes, high taxes on the rich, and
public funding of education and medical care.
My general rule is the Law of Diminishing Returns. Any decrease in the
gap between the rich and poor yields increased welfare.

4. What does the federal government have to do to "fix" Social
Security and Medicare?
First, Social Security is basically an increasingly dishonest loan
program. The minimum threshold must be abolished: if one does not
contribute a sufficient amount in Social Security, the government just
keeps the money. For the rich to rob the poor is despicable.
Second, Social Security funds should not be used for general funds.
That too is theft.
Third, much of the upper middle class draw funds from Social Security
when they have plenty of money from other sources. Meanwhile people
with nothing get nothing and end up in homeless shelters or on the
streets.
I'd recommend phasing out the whole system and replacing it with a
guaranteed minimum income at, say, the world average income plus full
medical expenses.

5. Do you think it's important to balance the federal budget? If yes,
how would you do it?
I think it best not to go into debt. I don't think banks should be
able to loan out more money than they have taken in. I don't think the
Fed should be able to print money. I think the Fed should be abolished
and Congress should retrieve its power to control the money supply,
just as it should retrieve its power to declare war and forbid any war
without its consent. I think we should shut down our foreign military
bases, stop building new weapons systems, and make our military purely
defensive—which it has not been for over 60 years.

Energy and Environment

1. What is your energy policy?
I favor maximum decentralization. The government should sell solar
power, wind power, geothermal, insulation, and various forms of
retrofitting to individuals, families, businesses, and organizations
at cost on a low-interest mortgage basis. Everyone should be able to
earn money by selling power to the grid and buy it back when
necessary. Nuclear power and nearly all coal plants should be shut
down. Automobiles should be miniaturized—like the new Tata cars—and
use renewable energy. Mass transportation should be vastly enhanced
and made more flexible. Suburbs should be gradually abandoned; they're
a failed experiment. Underground housing may be developed that will
put less strain on heating and cooling—and the land above it can be
returned to its original condition or used for agriculture. We should
design towns to minimize the need for transportation and rebuild light
rail systems for medium-range travel. We should phase out gasoline.

2. What do you think is the most important environmental issue, and why?
Global warming. It's lethal. Several factors—collapse of rain forests
because their biomass has exceeded the weight-carrying capacity of
their trunks, collapse of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica,
exacerbation of El Nino—may make exponential heat spikes that will
cause drought so severe that no one can survive it, flooding great
enough to wipe out vast coastal areas and whole nations—like the
Maldives and Bangladesh—horrific storms, sudden freezes, and such
chaotically unpredictable weather that no agriculture can succeed.

Electoral Reform

1. Do you support a system of public financing of elections for
federal office?
Yes. But not one similar to Connecticut's current finance reform bill,
which is designed to shut down third parties and probably will be
ruled unconstitutional.

2. Do you support Instant Runoff Voting?
Yes. It's not ideal. Because I once spent three days at a conference
studying the mathematics of elections, I can say there IS in fact no
ideal system, there are just a number of different possibilities, each
of which occasionally yields counter-intuitive results that may be
interpreted as unfair to one party or another. But it is better to
have instant runoff voting than not to have it because it allows more
contestants and preferences to be sorted out than the system in
common use does.

3. What's your opinion of electronic voting machines?
If there's no paper trail, I don't believe any machine no matter what
it says or how. There must be an unalterable physical record of each
vote. Anything else can be hacked.

Ethics and Conduct

1. How will you raise funds and how much do you plan to raise?
I would not run were I not assured of being able to raise at least
$5000 from at least 50 people. I feel sure of that because in 8 hours
of phone calls, 16 people offered $1770 (and 20 offered substantial
volunteer time.) $5000 is the absolute minimum the League of Women
Voter's will require to call the campaign "viable" and allow me into
the debates they manager. In 2006 the Libertarians had raised only
$8000 when the LWV accepted them, so if they fail to accept us at that
level, they'll have substantial explaining to do. Therefore I am
aiming for $8000 and may go as high as $20,000, but I don't want more
than that because I consider lawn signs and commercials a wasteful and
callous luxury while 1.2 billion people remain malnourished.
The number of contributors is more significant. I'm looking for $2500
to $5000 in relatively large contributions (in my terms)--$25 to $500.
I want the bulk of the money to be collected in units of $1 to $25,
mostly $5 contributions accepted while carrying nominating petitions.

2. What is your view of the role that Fairfield Green Party members
play in the positions you will take?
Politics is a group activity. One should run for office only is one is
certain that one speaks for a group of people who want their positions
heard. I will speak for the Fairfield Greens, peace groups like Peace
Action, and Impeachment Groups. They represent a substantial body of
morality, opinion, and interests.
If I win the nomination today, we will spend the time from 4 to 5 pm
going over the roles and activities needed for the campaign.
Greens should realize that we are less than one in a thousand, yet we
want those thousand to change their lives in the directions we
recommend. Becoming a Green therefore means taking on the job of
convincing a thousand other people—or at least 500—to change their
ways of life. That's a substantial commitment that requires serious
political activity. If we mean what we say, we'll all chip in.

Foreign Affairs

1. What is your position on the war in Iraq?
It was illegal and immoral for us to invade; we violated the UN
Charter, the Nuremberg rules, the Geneva Conventions, and the
Constitution. Every moment we are there we merely aggravate the
situation. Imagine this analogy: say the Nazis had won World War II
and conquered us. Some of us would have collaborated. Some would have
rebelled. The collaborators and rebels would have hated each other,
and would have fought. Then imagine a Nazi saying, "We cannot leave
now because you are too immature politically. You have many problems.
You can't behave yourselves. If you all grow up and admit that the
National Socialist way is best, then we will know we can leave. But
until you do, we will have to stay to help you make National Socialism
work."

2. What is your position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?
What gave the British the right to issue the Balfour Declaration in
1917? Brute force. To think about Palestine clearly, step back a
moment and think about an analogous situation, the Babri Masjid in
Ayodhya, India. The Hindus claim that Ram was born at Ayodhya. But
Ashoka built a Buddhist temple complex at Ayodhya in 240 B.C. Then
Babur built the Babri Mosque (Masjid) there around 1530. In the 1990's
right-wing Hindus claimed they had to destroy the Masjid because Babur
was insulting Hinduism when he built the mosque there. So they
destroyed the mosque and hundreds of people were shot in the process.
Then right-wing Hindus set out to build a Hindu temple there. As a
trainload were leaving from Ahmedabad, someone firebombed a train
carriage, killing 60. The Hindus promptly blamed Muslim terrorists.
There was no proof and no investigation. Riots went on for a week.
Gujarati police led crowds to Muslim homes and shops and told them
what to burn. Hindus murdered over 2,000 Muslims and made over 250,000
homeless. The chain of collusion went to the top of the government.
The Babri Masjid site is holy for three religions: Hindus, Buddhists,
and Muslims. The Hindus claim priority and ignore the Buddhists
because Hindus killed off nearly all Indian Buddhists 800 years ago.
Hindus and Muslims both claim priority. Both claims are part-true and
part-false depending on what periods of history one thinks of. They
all have scriptural backing.
International law has ways of solving these things. But you can't
solve them unless you want to. The first step is admitting that there
isn't a single sacrosanct status quo ante. The Israelis absolutely
refuse to do that. The Palestinians were obviously on the land before
the Israelis arrived. Yet Israel and the US paints the Palestinians as
terrorists when they are living in occupied territory. Israel has no
legitimate claim to the West Bank or Gaza, and no right to build the
wall it is building. The first step toward peace will have to be taken
by the Israelis.

3. What specific steps would you take to reduce military spending?
I'd shut down our 725+ military bases in 132 countries. I'd destroy
our nuclear arsenal following Jonathan Schell's plan in "The
Abolition." I'd strictly observe all treaty commitments. I'd build no
new weapons systems. I'd return to the military policies we had in the
1930's while vastly strengthening the UN and promoting its
restructuring so that the General Assembly could have some actual
authority. I'd restructure the military so that it was genuinely
defensive.

Health, Education and Welfare

1. What is your opinion of the federal No Child Left Behind Act?
It's a fraud. It sets "standards" but provides no funds to meet them.
The "standards" are not particularly meaningful and teaching to them
reduces education to idiotic rote learning. Responses to the tests are
fraudulent from beginning to end. No one knows what to do with
students who don't pass the tests; state laws forbid leaving them back
year after year. The net result is that the students, teachers, and
administrators all fake the results. They all become cynical and
despise genuine learning.

2. How do you propose to provide universal health care? How much
would it cost and where would the money come from?
We have the most expensive medical care on earth. 15.2% of our GDP
goes to medical care. Yet 26 countries, all with lower GDP, have
greater longevity. All European countries have less morbidity, fewer
underweight children under 5, less deaths among children under 12
months. We drastically underestimate the value of public health and
nutrition and relative equality of income (see Richard Wilkinson's
books, like "The Impact of Inequality.") UNICEF finds that of all
developed countries, the US and UK are the worst for children.
I see no insuperable problem with the Canadian health care system. All
the Canadians I know feel very lucky to have it. Most doctors are
happy with it. I've talked to doctors who emigrate to Canada so they
can be part of it—and are even willing to spend a few years living
above the Arctic Circle in order to secure their careers there. The
massive campaign the insurance companies put on in the early 90's were
false, slanderous, and purely self-serving.

Your Key Issue

1. Describe one key issue that you, as a Congressperson, would take
a leadership role in advancing. Describe the arguments in favor of
this issue.
I have two: impeachment and the need to reduce consumption. The first
is basically procedural, but the Bush Administration's destruction of
the Constitution has been so drastic that this is probably our last
opportunity to RETRIEVE our Constitution. I do not believe that we can
rescind all the unconstitutional laws Congress has passed in the last
7 years if we cannot even agree that what Bush and Cheney did was
wrong. Because we now have the laws of a police state, failure to
impeach will block all worthwhile efforts. Congress has relinquished
the power it needs to do anything productive at all, so the first
thing it must do is retrieve its powers.
The need to reduce consumption is my most important substantive
program. On the average, we each waste the world's resources at 32
times the rate the average person on earth does. We have exceeded the
earth's carrying capacity. The world doesn't need fewer people, but it
DOES need less wasteful people, and we are first on the list. We even
consume twice the energy Europeans and Japanese consume. Meanwhile,
1.2 billion people MUST increase their consumption to get out of
ABSOLUTE poverty—that is, just to stop being malnourished. Where do we
get the gall to squander the world's resources on nonsense
expenditures while 1.2 billion people feel CONTINUOUS pain in their
empty stomachs and half of them die from easily preventable intestinal
disease merely because they don't have potable water or sanitation?
We have to make people aware that wasteful spending is vicious and
that human rights should precede property rights—for everything in
politics is a system of relative priorities, not a laundry list. Lilly
Tomlin and Barbara Streisand may want to "have it ALL," but there's no
way to do that and it is immoral to try.

Your Campaign

1. What is your 30-second explanation to the public for why you are
running for Congress against Jim Himes as well as Christopher Shays?
Representatives take an oath of office to "defend the Constitution
against ALL enemies, foreign AND domestic. That is an unconditional
promise. The reason it is unconditional is that the FIRST right every
citizen has is to be a constitutive part of a SOVEREIGN people. If the
people are sovereign, they have an absolute right to their
sovereignty. Rights and duties are reciprocal: no right exists unless
someone else has an obligation to observe and enforce it. In this
case, the people who have the absolute duty to observe and enforce the
absolute right of the people of the US to sovereignty are the
Congressional Representatives and Senators of the country. Candidates
for congressional office do not have the right to fail to defend the
Constitution because nothing else guarantees the sovereignty of the
people. Witnessing Bush and Cheney's gross assaults on the
Constitution, their high crimes and misdemeanors, and the possibility
of their treason, no one should be eligible for congressional office
who will not demand impeachment. Mr. Himes will not demand
impeachment. Until he makes a concerted effort to do what he can to
organize for impeachment, he should not run, we should not yield to
him, and no one should vote for him.
I've been talking off and on to Jim Himes since September. I don't
expect him to commit himself to anything concrete regarding
impeachment.
I don't know about other candidates for the Democratic nomination.
That no one should vote for Christopher Shays goes without saying. He
is guilty of breaching his oath of office by supporting a criminal
president and vice-president. He may be guilty of crimes against peace
in his pursuit of the Iraq war.

2. Who will be your campaign manager? If you don't know yet,
how will you recruit one?
I'm not certain yet. Barbara Spitzer has offered either to be the
campaign manager or to organize speaking engagements, which is my
greatest need. I'm not sure she's what she's most comfortable with
yet. If I win the nomination, I'll be asking everyone to fill in forms
on volunteering possibilities between 4 and 5 pm. I'll also be calling
about 200 people one by one asking how and why a campaign like this is
valuable to them, what roles they want, and what time and finds
they're willing to commit.

3. How much of your time campaigning will be devoted to going
door-to-door?
My first priority is writing and posting messages. My second is
calling people connected to the Green party, impeachment groups, and
peace groups. My third is house parties and discussions with community
groups of any kind and size. Fourth is carrying petitions to get
signatures—at public places and events. Fifth is going door to door.
I do not expect door to door campaigning to yield much compared to
focused campaigning. I'd rather have people we already know find other
people for us to speak to, and to be passed on like a baton from one
person or group to another.

4. How will your candidacy help local and state Greens? If
part of your answer is that you will bring new people into the party,
please explain exactly how you will do that.
At present most of my support comes from people who want impeachment.
Such people are more politically active than most Green voters. I
believe the impeachment movement, the peace movement, and Greens will
fructify and reinforce each other.

General Questions

1.If you are elected, what will the Green Party gain from having you in office?
It would have its first Green national official in Connecticut. I
could sponsor a lot of bills no Republican or Democrat will sponsor.
My role would be similar to the role Bernie Sanders had as the
representative of Vermont.
The knowledge I'd gain of Washington would allow me to help Greens
know where to focus their energy in Congress.
Of course, if a number of Greens, impeachment candidates and peace
candidates are elected in November, we'll have a shot at making this a
country worth living in and worthy of respect.

2. Is there anything else you would like to add that you have not said
in response to the other questions?
Candidates have no magic. We're ordinary people acting as central
switchboards for a lot of people. Whenever we appear large or
dramatic, it is an optical illusion created by the number of people
supporting us. When we succeed, it is because our constituents put
their money and effort where their mouths are. What I can do is up to
you as much as to anyone else—it's up to the people who choose to act.
Richard Duffee

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Over-consumption & Gravel's assessment of Democratic Party

Impeachment People & Greens,
This message has two parts. 1) First there are exchanges about the
message yesterday on over-consumption. 2) Then there is an interview
Harold Burbank found: the Real News Network interviews Mike Gravel on
the condition of the Democratic Party.

I aim to post an email later tonight very briefly answering the
questions the New Haven Green Party ask candidates. It should be in
your inbox tomorrow morning anyway. If you print it out and bring it
to the convention at 1 p.m., you'll have some idea of my positions on
traditional Green issues and lots of points to ask questions about.
Richard


1) On Over-consumption:
Richard,
I appreciate what you say very much, but I don't want communism. There
is a fine line between conservation and communism or equal poverty for
all. We are at the far end of the spectrum, i.e. consumerism. The
emphasis on profit leads to greed and waste. Yet people have to make
money to live and should have a right to what they earn. I don't know
the answer. It will take a lot of social awareness to make people
behave differently. Recycling is a start, but we have a long way to go
to become more humane and practical in the long run. I would like it if
our corporations were not permitted to gobble up resources in poor
countries and bring the profit home. I would like it if our industry
were not outsourced. I would like to pay my share for goods and have
fewer of them instead of having them produced by slave labor in China.
That would be a start. Phyllis

Phyllis,
May I post this and answer it? I'll answer sentence by sentence.

On Jan 12, 2008 10:31 AM, Phyllis Mason <phyllism@snet.net> wrote:
> I appreciate what you say very much, but I don't want communism.

I'm glad you appreciate it. I'm glad you don't want communism because
I'm not a communist and the communists don't agree with me. In
legislating what they thought was right, Communists only substituted
domination by political power for domination by economic power.
Legislation cannot be based on simple morality because the state is a
monopoly of force and cannot lift a finger without forcing someone.
Simple morality assumes freedom; the sort of morality applicable to
legislation assumes one will FORCE other people to obey, and so must
examine what sort of force we are obligated to use. We feel obligated,
for instance, to use force against murderers: we routinely authorize
the police to capture and imprison them, if not to maim or kill them.
That sort of force, which the larger countries that have called
themselves communist have used, is clearly at least as large a problem
as the economic exploitation it purported to eliminate--while
substituting another form of corporatism.

There
> is a fine line between conservation and communism or equal poverty for
> all.

We will not survive if we don't reduce our consumption. The question
is how to survive with the maximum benefit for everyone--because after
all, each of us, to everyone else, is part of "everyone," so if we
want maximum benefit ourselves, we'd better aim for maximum benefit to
everyone. Otherwise we are in perpetual war.

There is a general consensus among economists that "poverty" has two
quite different but related senses: relative and absolute. Absolute
poverty is the condition in which one must spend over 80% to 90%
(depending on where and how one lives) of one's income on food, so
that if one gets any increased income, it too must go to food because
one is malnourished. I certainly am not talking about absolute
poverty.

My family and I live quite adequately. You're welcome to come visit
us. I don't feel deprived. I feel much happier and stronger than I did
when I spent more money because 1) saving money to give to people is a
lot more satisfying than buying things--particularly when I know it
will help them a lot more than it would help me; 2) I no longer
believe that what I own or spend represents me, which gets me out of
the anxious US status rat race; 3) Decisions are a lot easier for me
to make when I rely on the principle that wealth should serve those
who get the most benefit from it; 4) Instead of thinking about what I
own, I think about what I do and feel--which leads to more coherent
actions that make me feel better; 5) I don't feel intimidated by,
envious of, admiring of, or impressed by people who have more money
than I have; I just realize the rich are relatively selfish and
unenlightened people, and, in some cases, exploitative and deceitful.
So I feel freer, more open, and more equal.

Whether I am talking about relative poverty or not depends on the
context. I do mean it is good to spend less money than about 88% of
the people in the US spend, and good to give the difference between
one's expenditures and income to people who have less, so that wealth
will do more good. But if you are in India, for instance, I'm not
recommending spending less than people in the 93rd percentile
spend--which would make you an upper middle class Indian. So living in
the US on the world average income makes one poor relative to the
people around you, but living in India on the world average income
makes one relatively rich. The significant difference is social, and
one's ability to manage it depends on one's social skill and one's
friends' ability to understand.

I am not talking about "equal poverty for all" because I mean a level
of expenditure more than 10 times the level of absolute poverty. I am
not talking about "equal poverty for all" in the sense of relative
poverty because "equal relative poverty for all" is an oxymoron.

>We are at the far end of the spectrum, i.e. consumerism.

Yes. We're living in a peculiar condition of subordination to big
business. The corporate drive to make us spend more than we had was
quite conscious. You might read Vance Packard's series of books on
this, such as "The Wastemakers." Since World War II we have been
tempted into systematically spending more than we have so that
investors could continue to make profits without allowing corporations
to pay decent wages. In the last 30 years corporations have solved
their problem by shipping jobs to the Third World, where they can
don't have to pay wages workers could survive on here. The
constitutional crisis we have now reflects the economic crisis caused
by the fact that the multinationals are reaching the limits of the
number of countries and people they can profitably exploit--and so
increasingly need to resort to violence to maintain their
international rule.

The
> emphasis on profit leads to greed and waste.

Yes. Our government runs the country for the benefit only of
investors, not for the poorer 90% of us who spend more on debt service
than we receive. And we run our foreign policy for the benefit of the
multinational corporations and teh richest 2% of people in the Third
World--which is why we come into conflict with the other 98%.

The greatest betrayal of democracy in the US has been the failure to
ask or answer the questions, 'If we are a sovereign people, why don't
we have the right to control our own economy? If we believe in
democracy, why have we allowed somebody ELSE to have that right? If
we're not qualified to govern ourselves, what qualifies THEM?" The
result of our studious avoidance of these obvious questions is that we
now live in a plutocratic empire posing as a democratic republic.

> Yet people have to make
> money to live and should have a right to what they earn.

Certainly. But that begs the question of HOW we earn what we earn.
There are THOUSANDS of ways we have made it illegal to earn money.
Take a couple of obvious ones: extortion and blackmail. NO ONE wants
them to be legalized. If we had any sense, we would require that only
actual productivity would be able to make money. Every large
corporation calculates the percentage of its income that arises from
productivity and the percentage that arises from transfer. I think
that just as we have a bureau of weights and measures, we should have
a bureau that standardizes and publicizes those calculations and that
profits from transfer should be regarded as totally taxable because
they result from underpaying workers and inventors and overcharging
consumers.

The Libertarian position, that everyone is entitled to whatever they
earn, begs the question of the morality of sources of income on a
monumental scale. It pretends that economics is based on natural law.
This is Locke's idea: it assumes that we live in nature and natural
goods become reduced to our possession the moment we pick them up. Our
economy does not work that way: we don't just pick things up, but
extract materials from a limited environment with alterable and
largely arbitrary conventional property rights, and we process them,
and use other people's labor to do so, and market them, and transfer
them. Each of those actions is subject to a legal regime. We all want
it so, and to the extent to which we are democratic, we have the
right, ablity, and duty, to make that the legal regime that suits us.
I'm recommending that we make a legal regime that will allow us to
survive with the least suffering and most benefit.

By the way, ALL societies of ALL ideologies have three classes of
property: individual, community, and common; what differs is their
proportions. Libertarians pretend all property should be individual,
communists that it should all be community. Neither is CAPABLE of
completing such a program.

I don't know
> the answer.

It's no wonder. This country hasn't had an honest debate about the
question, so how are we going to be able to figure out what we think
about it? Some people have tried to start such debate, but it always
gets aborted by the media, politicians, and the educational system.
I'm trying to restart the debate on a different footing. We HAVE to
restart the debate because if we hang on dogmatically to our present
barbaric notions of ownership, global warming will either kill us all
or drive us to kill each other in order to hang on to our property. I
call our notions barbaric because they derive from medieval property
law, which was a complete legal system--for feudal serfdom. We have
never corrected the basic feudal fallacy that wealth derived "from the
land," and so belonged to the "owner" of the land--which just meant
the biggest bully in sight--rather than to the person who tended the
crop, whose labor was held to be so worthless that he was only granted
the "privilege" of keeping a small share of the crop. That's the legal
basis for claiming that the factory owner is entitled to the produce
of the factory.

> It will take a lot of social awareness to make people
> behave differently.

Absolutely. I know that teaching in the inner city, prison, and
detention centers, and working with homeless families, did not make me
understand the value of money. That didn't start to sink in until I
was 47. It took living in an Indian village for 6 months and sleeping
in a room 7 by 12 feet with 8 people on a slate floor. This process
has to be speeded up greatly. I suggest enormous expansion of the
Peace Corps and systematic exchange programs with Third World
countries. As of 2000, 11% of our national income was freebies from
the Third World, so morally we are deeply in debt to the people the
multinationals and our government exploit.

> Recycling is a start, but we have a long way to go
> to become more humane and practical in the long run.

Recycling is a lot less than the 10% tip of the iceberg. What entitles
each of us to consume what 32 people in the Third World live on? Are
we 32 times as hard-working? Imagine as many qualities as you want. No
combination of them explains the difference. The difference is that we
were fortunate enough to be born in a rich country but not virtuous
enough to prevent our exploitation of poor ones.

In my own case, I didn't wake up until I realized that I could not
explain why I should have 448 times as much as another person. I could
have counted her children, of course: her 13 rupee income fed three
people. So I really found out I earned money 1344 times as easily as
Venkatama's family could. I'm looking forward to having Phil Maymin
explain to me the justice of this.

I would like it if
> our corporations were not permitted to gobble up resources in poor
> countries and bring the profit home.

Hurrah! My question is what we are willing to DO about it. Will we get
Washington out of their control?

I regard myself as a modern Abolitionist. The Abolitionists abhorred
slavery. Empire is a system of slavery at a distance. It is inherently
despicable and we are morally obligated to oppose it.

I would like it if our industry
> were not outsourced.

Right. Outsourcing serves the interests of the richest 10% of US
citizens and the richest 2% worldwide. It injures 90% of US citizens
and 98% of people worldwide. The best way to eliminate it is to set
currency values by purchasing power parity value. That would take a
large chunk of the profit out of the practice for the multinationals
and protect both US workers and Third World workers at the same time.

I would like to pay my share for goods and have
> fewer of them instead of having them produced by slave labor in China.
> That would be a start.

Right, Phyllis, your heart's in the right place. There's slave labor
all over the world, of course, not just in China. I recommend Kevin
Bales' "Ending Slavery" and "Disposable People."

Thanks for beginning the conversation, Phyllis. The last time I tried
to start this conversation was in the winter of 1995. I spent $750
sending out essays to 250 organizations. I got 16 replies, so getting
someone to read and answer what I wrote cost me $50 each. I couldn't
afford it. But one of the replies came from Noam Chomsky, who said,
"Good idea." 12 years later, I'm having an easier time reaching
people.

Thanks,
Richard

"I finally got around to reading the [Lovelock] article. Very
depressing. There is
a book: NOT BY FIRE BUT BY ICE, by Robert Felix. No less depressing,
but certainly a different point of view….
An excellent book about how our government exploits poorer countries is
CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN by John Perkins. We are virtual
robbers. This is our government. I have also heard that small farmers
in Jamaica can no longer survive. They can't compete with the giant
farming industry. I am sure this is true not just in Jamaica. Big
business has gotten too big. A few thrive and the rest starve. The
feudal system in disguise. I think some legislation could be enacted in
these areas."
Phyllis


"Phyllis,
All of that is true. In India farmers serve their families
ganneru poolu tea--made from a 6 inch violet flower related to deadly
nightshade--when they can't take it any more and they all die
together.

Perkins has a new book out, "The Secret History of American Empire:
Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corporation.""
Richard

Exchange with Steve Fournier:
Simple logic, not to be confused with altruism, which encourages you to
congratulate yourself for doing the right thing. (Steve)

Steve,
Do you want me to post this? I'm not sure I understand it. My inbox is
full. I hit a nerve. I can see I've got an awful lot of
misunderstandings to clear up.

I appreciate your coming tomorrow.
Richard

It's not much of an observation. I observe that you do this because it's
right and sensible and not out of generosity. I'm sure you're generous, but
I don't think it's necessary to be generous or kind-hearted to follow your
example. (Steve)

Steve,
Gotcha. Yeah, I think that's right.

The appalling part is that the Law of Diminshing Returns has been
sitting around as one of the rock solid bases of classical economics
for over 200 years but everyone IGNORES it. Bentham, Mill, and Russell
all stated it perfectly clearly but ignored the obvious implication
because it made their fellow aristocrats and industrialists look
extremely bad. Sen states it and the World Bank and UNDP adopt it and
they TOO ignore it because it makes THEM look extremely bad. Somehow
it always just conveniently slips everyone's mind.

As my favorite Scottish poet said, "It's hard work holding by a
thought worth having—" watered down to English.

The whole thing is obscured by our conventional ideas of generosity
versus stinginess, selfishness versus altruism, gift-giving versus
entitlement, charity versus obligation. All these sets of terms exist
on the prior premise that we know who owns what. But ownership is an
entirely conventional idea; its a creature of law, and law is a
creature of the state's monopoly of force. If we are a sovereign
people, we can make the laws we want and run our economy the way we
want. We don't have to enslave ourselves to investors and we don't
have to believe in the necessity of the arbitrary oppositions our
vicious and greedy rulers assume we believe in.

If the people are sovereign, and people make goods to benefit people,
why aren't we entitled to decide to get the goods to the places where
they do the most good?

Politics is a system of relative priorities. No matter what you put
first, you put everything else second to last, and no matter what you
put second, everything else is third to last. If you put property
ownership first, human rights will be second to last. I believe
property rights are less valuable and important than human rights.

Can I post this exchange?
Richard

Definitely. I agree 100%. (Steve)

We probably should recognize that the people who object to a fair
distribution are in a very precarious situation when things get concentrated
in a few hands. We outnumber them hundreds of thousands to one. In this
country especially, with power residing in the people, they can be divested
at any time without warning. We would just have to choose that as a nation,
and it would happen. I suppose that's part of what this candidacy is about.
Class warfare is in progress, and we're proposing ourselves as leaders of
the disinherited. Logic, ethics, and reason are all with us. And if you
look as what the religions claim to teach, God is on our side too. (Steve)

I think you and Harold and I agree to a T, Steve. (Richard)
[And I suspect millions of other people agree with us too.]


From Hector Lopez:
Hi Richard,
>
> I am going to forward your e-mail to all my contacts, it makes a lot of
> sense. I''ll be at the convention.
>
> Hector L.Lopez

2) Mike Gravel interview on Real News Network
Transcript:

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: Do you distinguish between the three leading
candidates coming out of Iowa and going into New Hampshire, in terms
of the polling? You know, Obama and Edwards and Clinton. Do you
distinguish between them in any way?

MIKE GRAVEL: No. I think that they're the product of the celebrity
nature of American communication. And that's the sadness of it all.
You know. They have the same level of celebrity attention as Britney
Spears has.

JAY: When you get down to the policy level, there are some differences
between them. Are they significant differences?

GRAVEL: No, not at all. They're not significant. All three of them
want the health care paid for through business enterprise, which
cripples business enterprise. What's the difference? And as far as
education, they're all three endorsed by the NEA [National Education
Association]. You're not going to see any changes in our educational
system. What else? Education, health care. Two vital ones. The rest is
just rinky-dinking around.

JAY: Edwards has certainly been talking more aggressively about taking
on corporate America.

GRAVEL: Oh, yeah. Tell me how you're going to do that. No. I mean, how
do you do that? I don't know how to do that. I know, if I can empower
the American people, that they can sustain some policies, that I would
do that.

JAY: Certainly there are laws Congress could pass. I mean, a president
working with Congress—.

GRAVEL: Oh, Congress could do a good job, theoretically, but it can't.
Why? Its owned lock, stock, and barrel by corporate America. So you
think you're going to become president and you're going to turn to the
Congress and say, "Let's really straighten out corporate America."
This is foolishness. It's fantasy. But it sounds good on the stump. I
could make that kind of speech. Oh, man. Just listen to me. What am I
going to do to corporate America? You can't believe. And I know a lot
about corporate personhood and POCLAD and all of that. But so what?

JAY: But in a campaign like this, if someone has the potential of
winning and makes some kind of promises, in theory they can mean
something.

GRAVEL: In theory what it means is you're a hypocrite. That's what it
means in theory, because if you're smart enough to know you can't
deliver, and you tell them you can deliver, what are you doing? You're
raising expectations and you're lying to the people. Or you're too
dumb to know you're lying to the people.

JAY: Do you distinguish between the leading Democrats and the leading
Republicans?

GRAVEL: Oh, the leading Republicans, in my point of view, are nutty as
loons. They really are. I mean, they're warmongers. I mean, the
Democrats at least—here, I'll give you this example. The Republicans
and Bush. Lump them together. You've got boiling water. You take a
frog, you throw him in the water, and the frog jumps out. You get the
Democrats. You get tepid water. You put the frog in the water, and you
turn the heat up slowly, and you cook the frog, and nobody knows the
difference.

JAY: Okay, but that's an argument for saying there isn't significant
differences between the Republicans and the Democrats.

GRAVEL: Where are the Democrats raising all their money right now? Wall Street.

JAY: No, wait. Hold on. When I asked you first, you said they're nutty
as loons. That kind of implies the others aren't nutty as loons.

GRAVEL: Well, they're not as bad, no, they're not as bad. Well, no,
they're not as bad. Far from it. They're not as bad. But they're
pretty bad. Here. The Democrats are raising more money from Wall
Street than the Republicans are right now, from the same people who
own the Republican Party.

JAY: So, then, what do you make of Obama's promise of change and all
the rhetoric that's been going along with his campaign?

GRAVEL: It's foolish. Foolish. Dangerous. Dangerous, because he
doesn't even recognize that he can't deliver. That's dangerous. I
would rather - Hillary. At least she knows what she's talking about.
He doesn't.

JAY: Edwards?

GRAVEL: Edwards? He probably knows better, what he's talking about,
than Obama. Obama of the three is the most dangerous, because he
raises greater expectations of the youth and can't deliver. And the
worst thing a leader can do is raise expectations, and they don't
happen. You create a whole new generation of cynics. And that's what
he's doing. And he's used the line [inaudible] reason out what he's
saying. You know, the statement I like that I've heard from young
people: there's no 'there' there. And listen to the words. Make a
speech and use the word change ten times—what specifically are you
going to change? You're going to change the health care system? Not
really. You're going to change the military-industrial complex? Not
really. He wants another hundred thousand more troops. Are you going
to change anything about your relationship with Iran? Not really.
Nukes are on the table. Are you going to change anything with respect
to Israel? Not really. He's supported by AIPAC. Are you going to
change anything for education? He's on the education committee. He's
supported by the NEA. Where's change? I don't see any change. But he
doesn't say any of those things. He lets you figure out what the
change is. So it's like an actor. What does an actor do? He gives you
a scene, and you read into it what the scene means to you. And that's
what he's doing. It's terrible, because what you read into it isn't
what's going to happen, 'cause he's going to have the reality. The
simplest one of all is we have a $50 to $70 trillion fiscal gap.
There's no money to do anything, never mind this imperialism, which is
why there's no money to do anything. Here. You recall that Hillary,
Edwards, and Obama all said, when asked by Tim Russert, would you have
the troops out of Iraq by the end of 2013? And all three of them
equivocated, weren't sure that they could do it. And then you heard
just last night, oh, yeah; I'm going to start withdrawing them
immediately. What are they talking about? Say one thing; say another
thing. You know, withdrawing immediately, what does that mean? We'll
withdraw ten this month, and then I'm going to change my mind next
month? It's gross hypocrisy - is really what it is. It's politics as
usual, and that's sad, because we're at a turning point in '08. If we
continue with American imperialism, we're done as a nation. Truly are.
And two things coming at us. We're going to be irrelevant in the
world. You see this in foreign affairs when you see all these other
countries making arrangements by themselves; don't even invite us to
the meeting. Why? We come to a meeting; we think we know it all. We're
the superpower—you've got to listen to us.

JAY: Which meeting do you have in mind?

GRAVEL: Oh, they have meetings between China and India, between India
and Malaysia, between Pakistan and India. You name it. There's
meetings going on all over the world, and we're not invited.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a
recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their
complete accuracy.

Do we really want to try to own the world?

Hi Impeachment People and Greens:

For the last few months, I have focused only on issues most closely related to impeachment. I have put impeachment first because oaths of office require it and we because without it, everything good will always rest on an unstable footing. But impeachment is a threshold
issue, not a goal or end, but only a means. Now that I'm talking to both impeachment people and Greens, I want to go back to some of the problems that made me a Green—problems I believe we can only solve if we are willing to agree that Bush and Cheney are so profoundly wrong that they do not qualify to serve in office.

The first problem follows from the implications that, on the average, the billion people of the developed world each consume 32 times as much as the 5.5 billion of the developing world each consume. The division between rich and poor countries is astonishing in scope. Only 4% of the people on earth are within 25% of the world average income; 15% are above it and 81% below it.

The world has already exceeded its carrying capacity, not of people, but of human impact on the resources of the earth. We've destabilized the environment by using too much of the earth. We can't return the environment to normal without drastically reducing our consumption—not just our carbon imprint, but our total ecological impact. That impact is not a matter of population. It's a matter of total consumption.

If we have to reduce consumption, the question is WHOSE? We have the money and power to muscle everybody else out of the way and pig out at the trough of the world. That's what Bush's father was insisting we do when he said, "The American way of life is not negotiable." But if we follow that route, we're all dead.

First, a person living at the US per capita income (of $41,890 in 2005) has 32 times the capacity to reduce the environmental impact of humanity that a Third World person has. It is, of course, totally hypocritical for us to demand that Indians and Chinese reduce their consumption and carbon emissions without reducing our own. It's also totally ineffective. And there's a third reason we should go first: it's totally immoral for us not to.

The immorality of failing to reduce consumption is hard for most of us to perceive. Start by looking at the Law of Diminishing Returns. Jeremy Bentham knew that law in 1780. It has never faced a serious challenge, let alone a refutation; it has been used routinely as the basis for marginality computations. The World Bank uses Amartya Sen's formula for it to calculate its Gross Domestic Product Index. The law has been embedded in economics for at least 227 years. Yet its implications are almost never discussed.

In its broadest and most exact formulation, the Law of Diminishing Returns states that the human benefit derived from an expenditure is inversely proportional to log of the income level of the expenditure. We all know this. In its vague sense, it just means that the rich waste their money and the poor buy essentials. It's hard to deny that a $3000 car can get you to the same destination that Mercedes Benz will, or that you can get calories and protein from rice and beans as easily as from filet mignon and lobster. But the nice part of the Law is that it allows you to use expenditure levels to calculate average benefits with some exactness. You can find out that the majority of expenditures in the US now produce no human benefit whatsoever — that is, the don't make you live a moment longer, don't make you healthier, don't make you more educated or informed, don't make you better able to do any of the tasks of life that actually make us happier.

Of course expenditures over the $40,000 per capita line may add to your prestige if you live in a sick country like ours that values wealth above virtue and competence.

Amartya Sen's formula for the Law is at
http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr/20072008_en_technical_notes.pdf on page 356; it is

log (GDP per capita PPP $US) – log (100)
GDP index = --------------------------------------------------.
log (40,000) – log (100)

(PPP $ US stands for "purchasing power parity dollars; first you have
to figure out the difference between the dollar value of a nation's
gross domestic product, which is really what you could sell the
nation's yearly activity for on the international market, and the
purchasing power parity dollar value of the nation's activity, which
represents what it is worth to people IN the country. Purchasing Power
Parity is something like a Philosopher's Stone for economists because
it comes close to being a measure of "use value", a value that has
existed in theory for 200 years yet has not any good means of
measurement.)

The result is a number between 0 and 1. Sierra Leone presently has the lowest GDP index, .29, because its GDP is PPP$551; Luxembourg, the US, and Ireland share the highest, 1.00, because they're at PPP$40,000 or higher. IN 2004 the world average was .75, which was equivalent to $8,833.

If the average person in Sierra Leone gets PPP$550 this year, that person's welfare as measured by the GDPI rises from .29 to .41. If you give PPP$550 to a person living at the world average income of $8,833, that person's welfare increases only from .75 to .76, only one twelfth as much. If you give the same amount to the average US citizen, welfare does not increase at all. The real value of money increases drastically the poorer the person you give it too.

These numbers, of course, themselves don't seem real. So I'll tell you how I discovered that they ARE real. In May 1995 I was living in the South Indian village of Pedakakani, in the home of my wife's parents. A woman, Venkatama, talked to my sister-in-law for an hour. Then my sister-in-law talked to her parents for an hour. Then she came to me.

She said, "Venkatama just came from the doctor. He says she has filarial."

"That's elephantiasis," I asked, "Your legs swell up, then it kills you, right?"

"Yes," she said. "We have a favor to ask you."

"What?"

"Can you pay for her shots?"

"How much are they?"

"Eight vials are 120 rupees."

"That's $4.00. You are asking me to spend $4 to save her life."

"Yes."

"I don't think I'll ever get another chance to save someone's life for
just $4. Why have you been talking for 2 hours? Just to decide if you
could ask me for the money?"

"Yes."

"Why did you need to talk for two hours to do that?"

"It's a lot of money."

I knew I didn't understand something. I gave her the 120 rupees, she
took Venkatama to a pharmacy in town, bought the vials, and took her
to the doctor for her first injection. Venkatama came to the house,
put her hands together, bowed, and thanked me.

The next day Venkatama came to the house, bowed, and thanked me.

She did this every day for a month—the time it took to get the 8 shots.

I thought she might be crazy. No one treated her as if she were. I
thought she might be oddly servile. No one treated her as if she were.
I got more and more puzzled as the month went on.

She lived a block away. She had a round mud hut about 7 feet in
diameter. A banana leaf roof, a mud floor, an ill-fitting wattle door.
A couple of straw mats on the floor, two pots, three plates, 3 spoons.
Two sons, 9 and 11. A change of clothes for each. Laundry was on
Sundays. She cooked outdoors on a little mud fireplace on the ground.
Her sons gathered sticks for fuel. She worked in a tobacco barn.

I thought it would be embarrassing to ask how much she earned. But
finally I asked my sister-in-law. No, it wasn't embarrassing; everyone
knew she earned 13 rupees a day because that's what ALL women earned
in tobacco barns and fields.

Government rationed rice as then 8 rupees a kilogram. Lentils were 15
to 20 depending on the type. A green pepper would cost 2 to 3 rupees.
She made a pot of rice and a pot of dal each morning and put a bit of
vegetable in the dal. The three of them ate breakfast, put a lid on
the leftovers, and finished the two pots at night. Just about exactly
13 rupees a day.

Venkatama's husband was an itinerant tailor. He'd travel for 6 months
at a time and come back with enough money to pay the rent for 6
months, then leave again after a week or two.

In May, 1995, 13 rupees was 39 cents.

I started to get the idea. 120 rupees was 9.23 days labor for her.
There was no work on Sundays. She had her choice: let the kids and her
starve for 1o or 11 days, or keep on working until she couldn't stand
and then let them all starve while she died.

Well, how much did I earn in 9.23 days of work? In January, 1995, I'd
left a job teaching in the South Bronx where I was earning about
$35,000 a year. I took out my calculator and divided by the number of
days in the school year to figure out what I earned each day. I found
I'd been earning a bit less than $191 a day. Each 9.23 days I earned
$1761, That was 448 times what Venkatama could earn in a day.

What if I took a hospital bill for $1761 down the street to some guy
I'd never met, I asked him, "Will you pay it?" and he said, "Sure,
when else will I get a chance to save somebody's life for a paltry
amount like that?" How many times would I thank him?

Would I think of his thinking it was a paltry amount?

I'd thought I was relatively poor.

So I began to understand that I didn't know the value of my own money.
When I went back to the US for few months, if I went to a movie, I
knew I had a choice: I could buy a $4 tub of popcorn or I could save a
life.

When I returned to South Asia, I knew I couldn't spend money the way I
used to. But I didn't want to live on 13 rupees a day either. On 13
rupees I couldn't DO anything. I wanted to be able to do things. So I
thought, what's fair?

At the end of Plato's Republic, Glaucon asks Socrates, "Will this
Republic ever happen?" Socrates says, "No, probably not." Glaucon
asks, "So why have you been talking about it so long?" Socrates says,
"If I can figure out how I would live if the world were good, then I
can know what to do. I just have to live the way I would live if the
world were good."

I knew the Law of Diminishing Returns, had been reading Human
Development Reports for a while, and knew their formulas. I knew money
produces the most benefit when it is in the hands of the poorest
people. So the we could maximize the benefits of wealth if all the
people who have more than the world average gave their excess over the
average to people with less than the average. I had no expectation of
this happening, of course. But it told me what to do: live as if
people wanted everyone to have the most benefit possible from the
world's resources. Live on the world average income, adjusted for
purchasing power parity in whatever country I'm in. That's what I
started to do in 1996.

My family and I have 11 years of experience of this now, and I've done
it alone or with them in India (7 years), Nepal (10 months), the UK (6
months), Canada (2 months), the US (3 years, 3 months). Every year we
can have a raise; the world average income goes up. It's
difficult—just barely possible--to do it alone; single people pay a
much larger proportion of their income for rent and transportation
than families do. The more people who live together, the easier it is
to live well. For larger groups the savings are really substantial
because you can share all kinds of more expensive items. People don't
really need individual cars, washers, dryers, stoves, printers,
libraries: most of the time these things sit idle. We in the US have
forgotten how to cooperate with each other. In India and Nepal nearly
everyone cooperates regarding all sorts of things like these. What
keeps people from being content on the world average income—and
incomes much lower—is limitations on love and cooperativeness. And
increasing love and cooperation leads to a lot more happiness than
stashing away more THINGS. I am vastly happier than I was when I was
richer.

After 11 years I can tell you with certainty, we'd be a lot better off
spending a lot less money and giving substantial hunks of our
income—that is, a lot more than tithing for nearly all of us—to people
with less. It's more satisfying.

All of this, of course, is not to be confused immediately with
legislation because law is not about morality—or happiness—it is about
what it is moral to force people to do. It will take a great deal of
work, negotiation, education, and social change to figure out what it
is appropriate to legislate in order to guarantee the poor their share
of the world's resources. For surely they deserve some share of the
world's resources; the burden of proof that they do not deserve an
EQUAL share belongs on those who claim it doesn't, for mere prior
occupation, as Rousseau and Henry George pointed out, is the basic
source of most inequality. Certainly the premise that all money
legally obtained is morally obtained is false—for the same reason—that
the law is not about morality, but only about what it is moral to
force people to do. So if we want to be ethical people, we have to
think about the morality of money.

I do not know a politician who does not minimize these issues. Either
they don't understand them clearly, or they are beguiled by wishful
thinking, or they know that they're a hard sell for the US
electorate—which is certainly true—and so cynically decline to mention
them. Al Gore, for instance, shows you greenhouse gases and
temperatures increasing exponentially, but does not tell you either
that you must make an individual commitment to reduce your consumption
or that the government will have to force us to reduce our consumption
if we are to survive. Instead he just tells you there's lots of
technology that can fix the problem and there are lots of new jobs in
installing the technology—which is true, of course—but it does not
touch the remaining necessity to reduce consumption and does not even
admit the gross immorality, cruelty, and the high probability that
warfare will be necessary to force the Third World not increase their
consumption. The prospect of failing to decrease our consumption, if
we understand it, should frighten and sicken us.

It is because the Democrats fail to deal forthrightly with issues like
this that I joined the Green Party and feel I must run. I cannot
expect that the Democrats will pursue this issue—or any of the 8
others that were on my fliers in 2006—vigorously.

I'll write more on this as time goes on. In the long run, it is the
largest issue we face. We have to decide whether we want to hoard the
world for ourselves--as Bush and his father want us to, and as basic
US foreign policy has framed the terms since World War II--and
ultimately go to war with most of it, or whether we want other people
to be able to have decent lives too.

Richard Duffee