Is the Government Putting Something in the Water?
When I was a teenager my grandfather once told me that when you start thinking that everyone else is crazy, it's time to look in the mirror. Well, it must be my time, because this country is looking more and more like a Stepford society to me every day.
It must be something in the water, because every since the Reagan era the American people seem to be walking in their sleep, allowing the government and multinational corporations to cut their throats at will.
During Iran-Contra we simply stood by while Ronald Reagan sold arms to the very people that our troops are now facing today. Then we watched in silence as he flooded our inner cities with drugs in order to support his illegal excursion into Nicaragua. We also stood idly by while under Reaganomics he allowed speculators to dismantle our industrial base and sell off some of our largest corporations one piece at a time to benefit a small handful of people.
But the Republicans told us to not to worry. They said, if you'll just give up the right to write off the interest on your credit cards and other debts temporarily, the rewards that the rich are enjoying will eventually "trickle down," and you'll all be showered with the benefits of a robust economy. But their promise never came to past. The only thing that trickled down was our having to pay the tax burden of the rich - and even as I write, the rich are enjoying additional tax breaks while we still haven't regained the simple right to write off the interest on our debts.
As a direct result of our apathy, we're still suffering from the effects of our stupidity today, thirty years later, and due to the assault on our educational system we haven't learned a thing. So now the Republican Party and their corporate cronies have an entirely new generation of victims to feed that nonsense. They recycle their nonsense about every ten years, after the American people have time to forget the disaster they created.
Let us look at the Republican record. Due to the freewheeling fiscal policies of conservative Republicans, between 1986 and 1989, spanning the presidencies of Reagan and Bush Sr., the FSLIC had to pay off all the depositors of 296 institutions with assets of over $125 billion, while the American people just stood around and watched.
In 1988 Silverado Savings and Loan collapsed, costing the taxpayers $1.3 billion. It was headed by Neil Bush, brother of George W. The investigation alleged that he was guilty of "breaches of his fiduciary duties involving multiple conflicts of interest." The issue was eventually settled out of court with Bush paying a mere $50,000 settlement. Yet, again, we just stood by and watched.
In 1989 there was the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal, involving Charles Keating and John McCain. Lincoln went bankrupt, and it resulted in over 21,000 investors losing their life savings. Most of the investors were elderly, and the loss amounted to about 285 million dollars. Thereafter, John McCain was censured by the Senate for trying to use his influence to protect Keating, who ended up going to the federal penitentiary. Yet, again, we simply stood around with a blank look on our faces.
We also stood by and watched while Dick Cheney, under Bush Sr., reconfigure our military to sell off many of its most vital functions to private corporations, then walked right out the door into the arms of Haliburton to make a killing on the damage that he'd done. And if that wasn't enough, he returned as vice president to take advantage of the damage he'd done by lying to the American people in order to invade Iraq. That led to the death and maiming of thousands of American troops, and nearly a million Iraqi citizens - and all in the name of exhausting our national treasury and transferring the nation's wealth into the pockets of his friends, cronies, and colleagues. But still, the American people didn't say a word. We simply continued to walk around like zombies with a blank look on our collective faces, as we stared into the void of MTV, BET, and ESPN.
The level of our stupidity must have even shocked them. So they looked at one another and said, "What the Hell, we've exhausted the national treasury, but they still have a few dollars in their pockets." So they hit us with the Wall Street scam. Yet, even after that, we're still walking around in a stuporous daze.
They're able to get away with what they have because our current population is so undereducated and distracted by our hedonistic pursuits that we have no sense of history. Also due to our lack of education, they've been able to convince many of us that any attempt to protect ourselves and our families from this corporate fraud constitutes socialism. It's the American way to allow Haliburton to raid our treasury to electrocute our troops and provide them with contaminated water, but it's a socialist plot to spend a dime on putting Americans back to work, or provide our families with affordable healthcare.
Thus, the American people are rapidly sliding down a slippery slope where corruption is considered the norm. That's why I'm weighing in so heavily on the corruption that's taking place in the postal service. In the past, the government protected the American people from fraud and abuse, so private corporations had to steal from us covertly. But gradually the mores of our society change to where private corporations could do it openly. But now, the government has gotten in on the act. The United States Postal Service Postal Service has embraced the philosophy that it's perfectly all right to commit acts of abuse, intimidation, and actual felonies against American citizens.
When are we going to say enough is enough? It had better be soon, because at the rate that America is descending into the despotic abyss, it won't be long before Washington's corporate puppets outlaw our right to dissent.
Eric L. Wattree
By, Tony R. Wafford
As we approach almost thirty-years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, its time that the Black community stand-up and speak for itself. We appreciate all the support we've received over the years from the ACLU and countless other agencies, organizations and individuals that have come to the difference of and support of Black people. I applaud all the love and support that the Black community has received from well intended Non-Afro Americans.
The Black community is in a state of emergency, and it's time that we stand-up and speak our own special truth. I know that many social, civic, political and faith leaders have been lead to believe that they have been hearing from the Black community when many so-called experts in the field of HIV/AIDS have spoken. They have even heard from many who are infected with the disease speak on behalf of the Black community. I know that there are some in the HIV world that holds positions of power and influence that are either comfortable working with certain folks because they know they will continue to maintain the status-quo. I also know there are some in positions of power and influence in the HIV world that just don't know of those in the Black community that can really move the people. And there are some in positions of power and influence that just don't care about the Black community and the fact that HIV/AIDS is killing our people, and that's why we must stand-up and speak up for our community.
There are over 8.3 million people in the United States living under the jurisdiction (on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole) of the criminal justice system. 2.2 million People living in prisons and jails, and thousands of men and women returning every year to their communities not knowing their HIV status and its sad to say, most of them are Black men and women.
Did you know that if a person has been in lock-up in a juvenile facility, county jail or a prison setting for 72 hours (three days) or more, that person is ineligible to donate blood to the Red Cross or any other blood donor agency for (1) one year? Did you know that if a man has had sex with another man from 1977 to the present, they both are ineligible to donate blood to any agency that receives blood donations indefinitely (forever)?
Would you classify the Red Cross or any other agency that collects blood donations as being homophobic, violators of the civil rights of the post-incarcerated? Would you say that those agencies are further stigmatizing those who have been in custody as having engaged in same sex activities while being incarcerated?
Are these agencies saying that the 8.3 million people living under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system are homosexuals or intravenous drug users (IDU)? Why would these agencies declare any man who has had sex with other men (MSM) or is currently having sex with another man, ineligible to donate blood? Are these agencies stigmatizing the entire MSM community? Are these agencies making a declaration that all MSM's are having unprotected sex and maybe HIV positive or have AIDS?
What these agencies are doing is being responsible to the larger community. What these agencies are doing is coming to terms with the fact that we are dealing with a health crisis. What they are doing is what any responsible community would do; they are addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic for what it is, a health crisis!
What these agencies are doing is facing the facts that all those in local lock-up, juvenile facilities, country jails and prisons are living in very high risk environments for HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases and the Black community needs to take that same position regardless of what others, outside our community, have to say. We cannot allow those, who do not speak for or live in our community, to say differently.
African Americans account for over 4 million of those living under the jurisdiction (on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole) of the criminal justice system. Black men account for half of the 2.1 million people living in prisons and jails and thousands of Black men are returning to their community everyday not knowing their HIV status. Thousands of our brothers and sisters are returning to our communities daily, coming home to us, our families, not to the community of the well intended.
For the past twenty-eight (28) years, we have seen the Congressional Black Caucus call for a State of Emergency in Black America to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We have heard speeches, read articles, attended protest marches and rallies calling on local, county, state and federal governmental agencies to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic in African American communities. So, ask yourself... "What has been accomplished?"
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "vanity asks is it popular, politics ask is it expedient, cowardice ask is it safe, but conscience asks is it right". It's right to test all those going into and coming out of custody for HIV/AIDS. It's right not to allow anyone to return to their loved ones and community not knowing if they are a health risk to both themselves and their loved ones. And it's right to support, as well as supply all those in need of medical attention. I would encourage the Black community to do what's right; support mandatory HIV testing for all of those going into and coming out of incarceration. And to the well intended (and those you hire to do your bidding) that think you know what's best for Black people, stay to yourself if you can't support our struggle!