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Lifted from the Occupy Planning Committee….

1. Eradicate the Bush tax cuts for the rich and institute new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations.

Strong economies have a system that recirculates income throughout the system. The Bush Tax Cuts interrupt that system, by rewarding the removal of excess (profit) and gambling it on riskier items with the potential of superlative returns. Translated: Putting Billions on Animal Kingdom to win, place or show, doesn’t create jobs.

2. Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries when that company is already making profits in America.

This is simple. Raise the wealthy’s taxes across the board. Mandate that income earned overseas by American corporations gets taxed by America too. Then, allow a 100% write off on all physical investment here in America. Translated: Corporations will build here, when it becomes cheaper for them to build here.

3. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, placing serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and the banks.

We tried deregulation. It didn’t work. We reverted right back to where we were in the stock crash of 1929 after which Glass-Steagall was enacted to prevent that from ever happening again. Essentially Glass-Steagall says we need to separate our money that we require ourselves to live on, away from speculative investment… If you want to invest, do it by choosing to put your money at risk in an investment firm knowing full well that you could lose it all. However, safe money, needs to stay safe.

4. Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans all of the time.

There is a reason why other nations spend less on health care per person, and have much better results. THERE IS A REASON. One can wish for a lot of things; wish that private health care didn’t cost so much, wish that private insurance covered everything, wish that our doctor could keep giving us free samples all the time…. Switching to single payer, if we use Japan as a model, would save every American $4,800 dollars a year. A family of four therefore would see a savings of $19,200 per year…. Imagine what a family could do with an additional $19200 a year plopped into their lap? What’s really sad? The Japanese live much longer too… meaning we are paying more and getting nothing in return.

5. Immediately reduce carbon emissions that are destroying the planet and discover ways to live without the oil that will be depleted and gone by the end of this century.

Reducing carbon emissions is good for whatever reason. The idea that carbon fuel usage will deteriorate is not viable. The global energy requirements are growing exponentially. We need to insist that all new demand for power, be met by renewable resources (excluding ethanol). We will still need existing operations to continue just to keep our lights on.

6. We, the people, must pass two constitutional amendments that will go a long way toward fixing the core problems we now have. These include:

a) A constitutional amendment that fixes our broken electoral system by 1) completely removing campaign contributions from the political process; 2) requiring all elections to be publicly financed; 3) moving election day to the weekend to increase voter turnout; 4) making all Americans registered voters at the moment of their birth; 5) banning computerized voting and requiring that all elections take place on paper ballots.

b) A constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the constitutional rights of citizens. This amendment should also state that the interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.

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The story goes that Warren Buffet, rather worried about his investments early 2008, wanted to talk to God… God told him to use his phone and he’d send him the bill… He got and paid the $333 million dollar charge. His investments flourished, too… That would be the end of the story, except he was down in Sussex County recently, following up first hand on a corporate case being processed out of Georgetown… once again, he asked God for the right to call, and agreed to accept the charges… When he got his bill, he was fuming… He was only charged 25 cents… “God”, he said, “you ripped me off on that first call, big time!”… God said, “Warren, don’t you get it? In Sussex County, that’s a local call…”

Local call or not, Sussex County is weighing in on whether to say a prayer before County meetings or to not… Here are a few takes on that policy: one, two, three, four……

As someone who grew up where prayers were always said before football games and county meetings, it isn’t a big deal…… That is, as long as everyone agrees it isn’t a big deal. You don’t see prayers before meetings conducted in New York.

Not because New Yorkers are heathens, but because in New York, you have a multiplicity of religions, so praying a prayer from one of them, is a slap in the face for all others…

Why it’s even an issue in Sussex County is because the Positive Growth Alliance, has been building condo’s like ants, and lots of people who did not grow up in Sussex County, now live there. Many have different ideas of religion than those who’ve always been there all their lives…

If everyone believe in the same version of God as does David Anderson, then of course, duh, why are we even arguing about it… Of course we’re going to pray to God to guide us through this meeting.. That’s what He’s for!

Suddenly, thanks to Rich Collins and the Positive Growth Alliance, we have tons of people who do object to having David Anderson’s version of God, one who dislikes Homosexuals, and one who casts pox on Democrats, one who believes married people should have sex only when they have children, one who believes sex between animals is immoral, one who believes taxes are caused by the devil, one who believes that nature was made to bulldoze and pave with a combination of petroleum and gravel. … one who believes that oil companies have the divine right to pollute oceans, one who believes that animals were made for us to kill. … one who believes a national religious holiday should fall on the first day of deer season.. one who believes pick up trucks and baseball caps are proof that homosexuality is a sin,… on who believes killing someone with a gun is not a sin, but taking that gun away for the safety of others is…

(yes, I’m having fun and talking tongue in cheek)…

The point I’m making is that Sussex County is changing; and it is changing mostly thanks to Rich Collins and the Positive Growth Alliance.

Can you make new citizens join the current religion? If so, then by all means, just like the days of old, they will see no qualms in having a tiny prayer before the meeting.

But if they don’t want to join that religion, then, to force one group of religious people to impose their prayers on others, is not American…In fact, it’s kinda creepy…

If in an effort to show fairness, the Sussex County decided they would do prayers from all religions in alphabetical order, when they came to “B” and hit Buddahism, giving an Buddahist prayer before the session, most of those in the audience would be saying WTF! This is our nation, why do we have to listen to such crap…

Which is… exactly what those Buddahists think, who have opened a business in Millsboro, and have come before the county to ask for a variance on something or other that is in their antiqued code….

So… If it is unnatural for a Baptist to suffer a Buddahist prayer, it is equally unnatural for a Buddahist to sit through a Baptist prayer…

It’s not about one religion being right and the other wrong. It’s about who the citizens are that make up Sussex County. If you want to blame anyone over this controversy, the blame solely lies with those who built up Sussex County and brought in all these new people to begin with… Now that they are here, we have to make Sussex County as fair to them as New York, is fair to us, when we take our business up there……

Positive Growth, huh? Depends on your version of positive I guess………….

Across from the governor’s office in Legislative Hall, a tent was set up, wires and microphone brought in, and lots of AFSCME green shirts were handed out…

All were there to protest the 8% wage cut. Approximately 400-500 people showed up at the rally to support state labor and to question the necessity of cutting back pay for state workers by 8%,,,

Some of the legislators who crossed the street to show their support, were Debbie Hudson, John Kowalko, J. J. Johnaon, Dori Conner, as well as Mister Pro Union Republican Dick Cathcart.. Others arriving late because of caucuses, were Bethany Hall-Long, Pete Schwartzkoph, Bruce Ennis, and Bob Gilligan, … who missing podium time, mingled with the crowd outside.

The News Journal was there. Their reporter got out of her car, wandered around briefly, talked to two people, got back in their car, and drove off.. I saw her. Great reporting from a great paper.

It was cold, but not too cold. The Big Top tent was supported by to massive poles, but still not enough room underneath was present for the crowd that came… Many buses were on standby, having brought state employees from as far away as a little office outside of New Castle airport on Rt. 57 Churchman’s Road…. The atmosphere was apolitical in nature, but it’s tone was more direct, as is usually the case when one’s incomes are directly on the line…

Obvious attempts at cheerleading were promulgated by Green Shirted AFSCME speakers, with the popular phrase being “No Pay Cuts” erupting around the Green. It was their day in the sun, although perhaps prognostic for state employees, there was no sun shining… If that’s the official celestially-sent omen, then…..tighten the belts, boys and girls….

Despite the darkening skies, warm comaraderie and sense of purpose buoyed kindred spirits…

For despite how we see things in our impersonal bureaucratic kind of way… the bottom line is these people showing up, cannot survive on what they earn now, and are at wits end as to how they can remain solvent after taking an 8% cut….

This is real folks. It’s a real issue focused on survival… It is not about losing a little money here or there…

And that is what the demonstration finally drove home… As a government for the people, of the people, by the people, we must ask ourselves….do we want to put ourselves in the business of hurting people? One state worker from the Emergency Center outside Smyrna, said he wished his co- workers could also be there, but unfortunately they had to go to their second job: you know, the job that is required to keep ahead of today’s expenses… Now this worker had been employed over a decade… Over the period of that length, their income had increased a whopping 4%… Yes, 4%… Why cut back 8% they asked, to a rate less than when they joined? I gave the answer that the 8% was determined by taking the dollar amount needing cut, and dividing it by the number of people working across the state, 8% is what it came to mathmatically. (My realism was not appreciated in the emotionality of this environment).

Even I had to question returning this person’s wage level back to the times of George Herbert Walker Bush… Yes, we all know it was the party of his son who physically ruined everything for us… But still, jumping back twenty years?

Today, getting another source of income does not seem likely. Jobs are hard to find right now… And for those couples who have both partners working for the state, and are now approaching the “medical” years, the benefits for which they left the private sector and join the government and be willing to accept a measly 4% pay increase over the expanse of ten years, simply because of the strength of their benefit package,… are now losing those very benefits when they need them the most…

But then, I said, “everyone is suffering. Private sector employees have been making those sacrifices over the entire span of the Bush years as American jobs got shifted offshore solely because of the Republican tax breaks, and every domestic employer had to trim back his offered benefit package just to stay competitive…..”

“But, they were not working for the people”.. I was then told. “They were working for a business. We, gave our lives to help people, and now, we lose 8%? Is there any other option?””

Just then John Kowalko (D Newark) stood up with a plan to raise additional revenues from fees and corporate taxes, so that no employee would have to take a cut in pay. As expected those words went over well with this crowd… The prime argument being made by John, was that with state employees are taking an 8% pay cut, and they being the largest employee-base in this state, their damping of the state economy, would kill any chance of recovery before it had the opportunity to begin… People losing 8% do not spend. Businesses catering to people losing 8% do not earn revenue. Enamored with his response, Kowalko led a new cheer for “no pay cuts”. We could hear our echo bounce back to us off the windows of the Governor’s office….

Then Dori Conner stepped right up to the microphone….
Her twelth anniversary had just gone alright..
Between her and her great husband Bob,
Thirty seven years, …had gone by.
In their care the teachers, had done all right…..
They were the Sultans…

Next pro union pumped up Dick Cathcart got up to speak.. (he’s a Republican you know)… He laid into the racino industry who just last night in the House, threw enough money at enough Republicans to stymie a bill to raise $55 Million for the state through sports betting.. “Do you know why they wanted the bill dead?” “NO” yelled the crowd back to them. Louder he yelled, “Do YOU know why they wanted the bill dead?” “NO” roared the crowd back.. In his loudest voice cracking under the strain, “DO YOU KNOW WHY THEY WANTED THE BILL DEAD?” The crowd in one voice blasted back: NO!

“THEY WEREN’T HAPPY WITH THE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS THEY’D BE MAKING OFF THE EXISTING DEAL… THEY WANTED MORE….AND MORE…. AND MORE…”

(Now if ever there was a good reason for gun control, then this just brought it up… For in the heat of that moment, as the collective mindset of all those present slowly grasped the gravity of the insolence that had occurred the night before, had everyone there had access to a firearm, the possibility exists that there would be no Republican left standing by this time tomorrow.)

Next “JJ” Johnson reminded the audience of the march on Washington… Reciting the directives of 1963, he encourage that group to stay organized and work together… “United we stand, Divided we fall”. he led the crowd… Although his analogy was outdated and a little off mark, (the march on Washington which culminated in the ” I Have A Dream” speech was to dramitize the plight of African Americans, not labor ), his enthusiasm was contagious towards fueling the protest of the moment, as many there envisioned the power trip that they would elicit from being part of something as grand as that march on Washington…….

Finally AFSCME spokesman led the final cheers of “No Pay Cuts” and had us direct them toward Markell’s office, and the party slowly matriculated outside. Symbolism not being lost on this observor, it is hereby dutifully noted, that throughout the demonstration, the podium had been facing South: the direction Republican leadership had led our State House and our country over these past 8 years….

Final points occurred on the sidewalk as Legislators who had been tied up in caucus, came over to “pay their dues” or to “show their support…” Bob Gilligan, Bethany Hall-Long, Bruce Ennis, and the newly fired Pete Schwartzkoph, joined John Kowalko on the sidewalk. The official AFSCME sign carriers, proceeded to march across the street and parade up and down past Markell’s window.. I couldn’t help make the casual observation, based on what I was currently seeing, that carrying signs in today’s electonic age, was silly and made one look quite foolish and outdated… What’s the point, anyway, when you can reach thousands with a radio ad? Why look like you belong in the 1890’s parading around Matewan?

Bet you can’t guess who out of these legislators, was the most engaged?

Pete.

The least? Bethany Hall- Long, I think… who walked ten feet in each direction blankly saying “thanks for your support”… and then returned to huddle with Gilligan, and several staffers…

And, I should say.. Bruce Ennis impressed me…

And as is tradition, I’ll close with a vignette:

Bob Gilligan, when he heard about Pete’s firing, came up and offered this observation…

“Look Pete, not only is what they did, stupid…. but it was “fucking” stupid….”

Damn! I love Democrats… Gone now are those Copelandish aphorisms of ominously finding ourselves “stepping into a big pile of doo doo”.. At least we’re hearing real truth for a change… Even if it gets interpreted by Pete’s darling grandson as being “truckin’ stupid….”

(inside joke)