Col. Writ. 12/21/03
'Ill-ections' to come
By Mumia Abu-Jamal from death row
The brand "America" is like Clorox corporation:
it sells both toxic bleach (Clorox) and salad
dressing (Hidden Valley Ranch). If the salad
dressing came with the Clorox label, we wouldn't
buy it. If "America" came with images of poverty
and of military domination, it would fail as fantasy.
-- Vijay Pras*Keeping Up With the Dow Joneses*
(South End Press, 2003), pp. xiii-xiv.had,
It is difficult to hear major presidential candidates (for either
major political party) get up and talk about their program,
without stifling a chuckle.
Almost all of them are corporate henchmen, who have gotten
their political positions by serving the whims of the corporate elites.
What is perhaps most amusing, is to see these guys (most *are*
guys) dress down, with workshirts, their collars unbuttoned,
their sleeves rolled up, to affect an illusion that they are just
average working stiffs, instead of the wealthy corporate shills
that they have spent their lifetimes being.
It is a telling reflection of the political need to perform this
schlocky kind of theatre, in order for them to begin to be
heard by average, everyday folks among the American citizenry.
Most can't point to any real legislative, gubernatorial, or
mayoral achievement of any real note, that helped out the
working people. Indeed, many have been part of the
generations-long war on the poor, sparked by Reagan and
continued under Clinton, to "discipline" the poor, and make
them amenable to corporate rule over the marketplace.
The corporate media doesn't help matters when it blares
about the falling unemployment figures, or the rising Dow Jones
average, when neither indicator really reflects much to average
working folks. The unemployment rates are notoriously
unreliable, for they never reflect those millions who have simply
given up looking for work, those who are on disability, or
those many in prison. As for the Dow, international studies
scholar, Vijay Prashad reports:
While almost half of US households own some stocks
(whether through a retirement plan or otherwise), for
60 percent of households, their stocks amounted to
only $4,000. The *top one percent, those people who
are given "free money," hold almost half of all stocks
(47.7 percent), while the bottom 80 percent hold a
miniscule 4 percent of all stock holdings*. (fr. Prashad,
V. *Keeping Up With the Dow Joneses: Debt, Prison,
Workfare* (Cambridge, Ma.: South End Press, 2003),
When's the last time you heard a political candidate talk about
those on the bottom of the nation's political economy? Those
millions who are out of luck, out of work, on the bottom? If
you listen to most pols, they'll wax eloquent about the great
American "middle class", as if there are not millions of folks
who are below that great middle. Millions of folks work
everyday, but can't seem to get a grip on the means to really
make a decent wage. For the politicians who yearn to run
the government, these people are invisible. They don't
exist. They are forgotten.
If they're invisible before the election, what do you think
they'll do afterwards?
And now, the financial media broadcasts about the 'jobless
recovery.' For too many men and women in America, the
answer is not simply jobs. Jobs without a living, growing
wage, are just daily drudgery and toil.
The millions of manufacturing jobs that have been lost in
the last few years are gone forever, and in its place is a slew
of service jobs, which don't begin to pay the rates of those
that are gone.
Five years ago, corporations sent terror through their
workforces by threatening to move to Mexico. With the
beginning of Mexican trade unionism edging their way into
the dreadful maquiladoras, businesses now threaten to cross
the seas to China, where labor is even cheaper! We are
witnessing the dark face of globalism, the 'structural
adjustment' of Reagan, and the 'new economy' of Clinton.
The solution ain't voting for some loser to betray you
after election day; it's to organize, to rebuild unions, and
make them truly international entities, to protect the interests
of labor -- globally!
Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal
[Mr. Jamal has written widely about war and other issues.
His latest work, *Faith of Our Fathers* (Africa
World Press, 2003) was named one of "The Most
Remarkable Books of 2003" by *Black Issues Book
Review* (Nov/Dec '03).]
"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about
justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal
MUMIA'S COLUMNS NEED TO BE PUBLISHED AS BROADLY
AS POSSIBLE TO INSPIRE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT AND
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FAITH OF OUR FATHERS: AN EXAMINATION OF THE SPIRITUAL
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Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa
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