Great song of street protest from the Occupy Movement (by Chic Streetman)
This brilliant and visionary commentary by Richard Wolff, a self-described Marxist professor of economics, provides his customary lucid and insightful thoughts on our current situation and some provocative previews of possible breakthroughs to come. (In fairness, I should add the above title is mine, not his).
Occupy Wall Street has already weathered the usual early storms. The kept media ignored the protest, but that failed to end it. The partisans of inequality mocked it, but that failed to end it. The police servants of the status quo over-reacted and that failed to end it – indeed, it fueled the fire. And millions looking on said, “Wow!” And now, ever more people are organizing local, parallel demonstrations – from Boston to San Francisco and many places between.
Let me urge the occupiers to ignore the usual carping that besets powerful social movements in their earliest phases. Yes, you could be better organized, your demands more focused, your priorities clearer. All true, but in this moment, mostly irrelevant. Here is the key: if we want a mass and deep-rooted social movement of the left to re-emerge and transform the United States, we must welcome the many different streams, needs, desires, goals, energies and enthusiasms that inspire and sustain social movements. Now is the time to invite, welcome and gather them, in all their profusion and confusion. So permit me, in the spirit of honoring and contributing something to this historic movement, to propose yet another dimension, another item to add to your agenda for social change.
To achieve the goals of this renewed movement, we must finally change the organization of production that sustains and reproduces inequality and injustice. We need to replace the failed structure of our corporate enterprises that now deliver profits to so few, pollute the environment we all depend on, and corrupt our political system.
We need to end stock markets and boards of directors. The capacity to produce the goods and services we need should belong to everyone – just like the air, water, healthcare, education and security on which we likewise depend. We need to bring democracy to our enterprises. The workers within and the communities around enterprises can and should collectively shape how work is organized, what gets produced, and how we make use of the fruits of our collective efforts. If we believe democracy is the best way to govern our residential communities, then it likewise deserves to govern our workplaces. Democracy at work is a goal that can help build this movement.
Yet, for decades now, we have failed to similarly question, challenge, criticize and debate our economic system: capitalism. Because a taboo protected capitalism, cheerleading and celebrating it became obligatory. Criticism and questions got banished as heresy, disloyalty or worse. Behind the protective taboo, capitalism degenerated into the ineffective, unequal, crisis-ridden social disaster we all now bear.
Capitalism is the problem – and the joblessness, homelessness, insecurity, and austerity it now imposes everywhere are the costs we bear. We have the people, the skills and the tools to produce the goods and services needed for a just society to prosper. We just need to reorganize our producing units differently, to go beyond a capitalist economic system that no longer serves our needs.
Humanity learned to do without kings and emperors and slave masters. We found our way to a democratic alternative, however partial and unfinished the democratic project remains. We can now take the next step to realize that democratic project. We can bring democracy to our enterprises – by transforming them into cooperatives owned, operated and governed by democratic assemblies composed of all who work in them and all the residents of the communities who are interdependent with them.
Published on Tuesday, October 4, 2011 by The Guardian/UK
Filed under: Current Events, Economics & Finance, Modern History, Politics | Tagged: austerity, capitalism, homelessness, insecurity, joblessness, Occupy Wall Street, Richard Wolff | Leave a comment »
At a recent conference of the Drug Policy Alliance – a public education and advocacy group doing excellent work – I was made aware and/or reminded of some starling yet established facts concerning the ancient and sacred healing herb cannabis.
Prevalence and usage
# 42% of the US population age 12 and older admits to trying cannabis at least one time. This equates to about 100 million people.
# The percentage of Americans favoring cannabis legalization is the highest it has been in 40 years: 41% think it should be legal.
# 75% of Americans favor legalization of medical cannabis use.
# White people consume and sell cannabis at the same rate as African-Americans.
# Domestic production of cannabis in the US is estimated at 20 million pounds per year – higher than at any time in history.
# Mexican drug cartels make up to 80% of their profits from cannabis exported to the US.
# The value of the annual cannabis crop exceeds the value of wheat, cotton and corn combined, making cannabis by far the most valuable agricultural commodity in the US.
# The high monetary value of the cannabis crop is in large measure due to the high price paid for the cannabis harvest, in comparison to the other food crops. This high cost of the cannabis harvest in turn is a function of its illegal status, requiring all kinds of unusual risk-protection measures to be in place. So, if it were legalized the price of the crop is likely to decline significantly.
Prohibition and its costs, potential consequences of its repeal
# 900,000 Americans were arrested in the last year for crimes related to cannabis.
# African-Americans are twice as likely to be arrested as Whites (though usage is the same).
# In California, African Americans make up less than 7% of the population but 22% of those arrested for marihuana offenses, 33% of marihuana-related felony offenses.
# Nearly one half of all prisoners in America are serving sentences for drug related offenses.
# This amounts to about half a million prisoners at an average cost of $40,000 per year per prisoner.
# There are more than 50,000 police paramilitary raids in the US every year – more than 130 every day. Virtually all are for prosecution of drug warrants, the vast majority involving marihuana.
# Many jurisdictions use heavily armed and armored SWAT teams for execution of drug search warrants. (Comment/Question: are they practicing and testing their latest equipment?)
# Legally regulated cannabis would save $7.7 billion in
government expenditures on prohibition: $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local level.
# Revenue from taxation of cannabis sales could range from an estimated $2.4 billion per year if taxed like ordinary consumer goods, to $6.2 billion if taxed like alcohol or tobacco.
# A DEA Administrative Law judge declared in 1988 that “Cannabis is one of the safest therapeutically active substancs known to man…In strict medical terms, marihuan is far safer than many foods we commonly consume.
# In 2007 researchers studied the effects of THC on uses suffering from depression asnd found that moderate doses had an anti-depressant effect, but heavy doses could exacerbate depression.
# Studies in 2003 and 2007 concluded that cannabis does not appear to be causally related to schizophrenia, but that its use could precipitate psychological disorders in people vulnerable to developing psychoses.
# Cannabis smokers can have similar respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, including cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness and a heightened rist of lung infection. However, a 2006 study funded by NIDA found that smoking cannabis, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.
# Researcers at UCLA and UCSF determiend that THC.. has an anti-tumor effect.
# The FDA has found THC to be safe and effective for the treatment of nausea, vomiting
Some of the most innovative and significant research on psychedelics within the medical/psychiatric establishment has been done by Charles Grob, M.D. at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Grob also collaborated with Dennis McKenna, Ph.D., J.C. Callaway, Ph.D. and scientific researchers associated with the UDV, one of the Brazilian ayahuasca churches, on psychological and physical effects of long-term use of ayahuasca. These studies were published in the medical-scientific literature and also described in three chapters by these researchers in my edited book on Ayahuasca – Sacred Vine of Spirits.
Doing research on dying, or even speaking openly about one’s death, is generally avoided due to the unspoken taboo which obstructs a reasoned and compassionate look at the unavoidable fact that living is a terminal condition – with or without illness. Following suggestions from Aldous Huxley and pioneering research by Stanislav Grof, MD in the sixties on using psychedelics to relieve end-of-life anxiety, Charles Grob has done follow-up research on this area as well.
A study of using psilocybin to relieve anxiety in terminal patients with advanced stage cancer was published recently in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry considered the #1 impact publication in the field of psychiatry. (Grob, C.S, et al. A pilot study of psilocybin treatment for anxiety in advanced-stage cancer patients.)
Charles Grob and his colleague Roland Griffiths also published an overview article on this work in the prestigious Scientific American (Dec 2010) Hallucinogens as Medicine which is a major sign that scientific research on psychedelics is again entering a new phase of establishment acceptance after two decades of prohibition and neglect.
Establishment acceptance and FDA/DEA permission, though they are necessary preconditions for new research in this area, are not sufficient since such research on unpatentable substances does not attract funding from pharmaceutical companies who are primarily attentive to their bottom line.
Dr. Charles Grob has written that
My colleagues and I at have completed a landmark clinical research study using a psilocybin treatment model in patients with advanced-stage cancer anxiety. We are now confident that we will be able to extend our investigations and further contribute to this long-neglected yet now resurrected field. We are eager to implement a modified treatment protocol that will allow us to utilize a somewhat higher dosage of psilocybin as well as the option to treat the subject with a second “booster” session several weeks after the first. However, as the national granting agencies have historically declined to support psychedelic research studies, it has become essential to solicit our funding from private donors. So, I am contacting you to explore whether you might be able to help us with funding support.
To get a sense of the significance and potential impact of this work with psilocybin in alleviating anxiety around dying, below are are links to two filmed interviews with subjects who went through this program, and who have since died.
A second research project that Dr. Charles Grob is initiating involves using a novel phenethylamine analog in treating autism. This area was also pioneered in the 1960s (and subsequently dropped) when psychologist Gary Fisher, Ph.D. working at Fairview State Hospital in Orange County, gave small doses of LSD to hospitalized autistic children – with some remarkable results. Charles Grob writes as follows about this project:
I also wanted to alert you to a second study for which we are in the early planning stages and that we believe may have great potential for further development and application in the future. This is a study using a psychedelic phenethylamine analogue to treat individuals who are considered to have Asperger’s Disorder, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Given the serious lack of effective treatment, and the growing numbers of young people identified with this developmental delay condition, there is no doubt a compelling need for a new therapeutic approach. Unlike our psilocybin treatment of anxiety in individuals with advanced medical illness, for which we have demonstrated feasibility and safety and have already completed our pilot clinical study, the psychedelic phenethylamine analogue study will need to be developed in its entirety, from drug preparation to pre-clinical toxicology studies to Phase 1 human investigations. Obviously, this will require greater time and expense to develop, yet we believe that this project has great potential for the vast numbers of individuals with this condition.
I’ve had a compelling interest in the potential of psychedelics to impact our culture and medical practice for more than forty years and believe that the obstacles that held the field back in the past have lifted, making it possible to explore this fascinating and potentially valuable area of research. The rate limiting factor no longer appears to be government regulators, but rather the financing of the actual studies. We have made enormous progress over the last few decades to get to this point, and are now poised to extend our work to a substantive degree. We hope you will be able to help us in this endeavor.
Dr. Grob has told me that they are seeking to raise about $150,000 for an extended follow-up study on psilocybin and end-of-life anxiety; and another $300,000 for the phenethylamine analogue autism study – more expensive since the researchers need to begin with pilot and feasibility studies in this area. The research facility where the work would be carried is a non-profit institution and can accept tax-deductible donations. It would also be possible to channel funds for these projects through the non-profit Green Earth Foundation. To learn more about these research projects and how to support them please contact Dr. Charles Grob at firstname.lastname@example.org
Filed under: Ayahuasca – Sacred Vine of Spirits, Consciousness, Economics & Finance, Films, Holistic Healing, Psychedelics, Science | Tagged: Aldous Huxley, Autism, Ayahuasca – Sacred Vine of Spirits., ayahuasca churches, Charles Grob MD, Dennis McKenna, end of life, Gary Fisher, Hallucinogens as Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, J.C. Callaway, MD, Ph.D., psilocybin treatment for cancer anxiety, Roland Griffiths, Scientific American, Stanislav Grof, thereapy for end of life anxiety, UCLA, UDV | Leave a comment »
A three-day conference Sept 28-18, 2011 in Charlottesville, VA, sponsored by the group War is a Crime.org, addressed the disastrous effects of the permanent war economy on society, and how to get out of it. The roster of prominent speakers included David Swanson, Ellen Brown, Ann Wright, Lisa Savage, Robert Jensen, Bruce Cagnon, Ray McGovern and others.
Here is an excerpts from David Swanson, who organized the conference. to whet your appetite:
Let’s say we want to create 29 million jobs in 10 years. That’s 2.9 million each year. Here’s one way to do it. Take $100 billion from the Department of Defense and move it into education. That creates 1.75 million jobs per year. Take another $50 billion and move it into healthcare spending. There’s an additional 400,000 jobs. Take another $100 billion and move it into clean energy. There’s another 550,000 jobs. And take another $62 billion and turn it into tax cuts, generating an additional 200,000 jobs. Now the military spending in the Department of Energy, the State Department, Homeland Security, and so forth have not been touched. And the Department of Defense has been cut back to about $388 billion, which is to say: more than it was getting 10 years ago when our country went collectively insane.
Military spending is the very essence of “built-in obsolescence”: it turns out products that are designed to blow up. The military is not subject to ordinary market principles but works on a “cost-plus” basis, with producers reimbursed for whatever they have spent plus a guaranteed profit. Gone are the usual competitive restraints that keep capitalist corporations “lean and mean.” Private contractors hired by the government on no-bid contracts can be as wasteful and inefficient as they like and still make a tidy profit. Yet legislators looking to slash wasteful “entitlements” persist in overlooking this obvious elephant in the room. …
Fortunately, there is a way to solve these problems without maintaining a perpetual state of war: keep the jobs but convert them to civilian use. Military conversion is a well thought-out program that could provide real economic stimulus and national security for people here and abroad. Existing military bases, laboratories, and production facilities can be converted to civilian uses. Bases can become industrial parks, schools, airports, hospitals, recreation facilities, and so forth. Converted factories can produce consumer and capital goods: machine tools, electric locomotives, farm machinery, oil field equipment, construction machinery for modernizing infrastructure. It has been done before.
Several thousand years ago, the prophet Isaiah spoke of his vision that “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” This is a worthy guiding motto for our times when the military-industrial complex is driving the entire civilization into self-destruct mode and oblivion.
Filed under: Current Events, Economics & Finance, Modern History, Politics, Roots of War & Domination | Tagged: Ann Wright, Bruce Cagnon, David Swanson, DOD, Ellen Brown, Homeland Security, job creation, miltary conversion, miltary industial complex, Prophet Isaiah, Ray McGovern, State Department, Sword into plowshares, WarIsACrime.org | Leave a comment »