3
Okt
2004

Crimes Against Nature

rtsp://video.c-span.org/15days/wj091604_kennedy.rm

play this 32 min clip in real player, cut and paste it into the "open" option under the "file" menu.

I dont care who you are rooting for in this election I just think this is an important issue, listen to it carefully (read his book if you have the time). No matter what you think of RFJ jr. I think this is extremely important to hear. These are indeed the facts, he did not just come up with them, the NRDC is an honorable non-partisan institution in Washington DC which RFK jr. works for.

How can this be justified? How can this administration be held accountable? Even if you think the Bush aproach to the war in Iraq is good it is beside the point--hawks and neocons are also products of the womb-- I still cannot understand how this could be justified in order to vote for bush again.


Informant: DitziSis

--------

From Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s book, Crimes Against Nature:

You show me a polluter and I'll show you a subsidy. I'll show you a fat cat using political clout to escape the discipline of the free market and load his production costs onto the backs of the public.

The fact is, free-market capitalism is the best thing that could happen to our environment, our economy, our country. Simply put, true free-market capitalism, in which businesses pay all the costs of bringing their products to market, is the most efficient and democratic way of distributing the goods of the land-and the surest way to eliminate pollution. Free markets, when allowed to function, properly value raw materials and encourage producers to eliminate waste-pollution-by reducing, reusing, and recycling.

As Jim Hightower likes to say, "The free market is a great thing -- we should try it some time."

In a real free-market economy, when you make yourself rich, you enrich your community. But polluters make themselves rich by making everybody else poor. They raise the standard of living for themselves by lowering the quality of life for everyone else. And they do that by escaping the discipline of the free market.

The coal-burning utilities that acidify the Adirondack lakes, poison our waterways with mercury, provoke 120,000 asthma attacks, and kill 30,000 of our neighbors every year are imposing costs on the rest of us that should, in a free-market economy, be reflected in the price of the energy when they bring it to the marketplace. By avoiding these costs, the utilities are able to enrich their shareholders and put their more conscientious and efficient competitors out of business. But these costs don't disappear. The American people pay for them downstream -- with poisoned fish, sickened children, and a diminished quality of life. Every one of our federal environmental laws is intended to restore true free-market capitalism so that the price of bringing a product to market reflects the costs that it imposes on the public.

The truth is, I don't even think of myself as an environmentalist anymore. I consider myself a free-marketeer. Along with my colleagues at the NRDC and Waterkeeper, I go out into the marketplace and catch the cheaters. We tell them, "We're going to force you to internalize your costs the same as you internalize your profits." Because when polluters cheat, it distorts the entire marketplace, and none of us benefits from the efficiencies and democracy that the free market promises.

Corporate capitalists don't want free markets, they want dependable profits, and their surest route is to crush the competition by controlling the government. The domination of our government by large corporations leads to the elimination of markets and, ultimately, to the loss of democracy.

Some of the largest federal subsidies are going to western resource industries-grazing, lumber, mining, and agribusiness -- that have spawned the most vocal attacks against federal environmental laws. These industries are run by some of the richest and most radically conservative people in the country, men like Richard Mellon Scaife, Charles Koch, and Joseph Coors. Their intense hatred for federal government is, in a supreme irony, combined with an intense reliance on federal subsidies. Let's not forget that we taxpayers give away $65 billion every year in subsidies to big oil, and more than $35 billion a year in subsidies to western welfare cowboys, many of whom are destroying our public lands and waterways. Those subsidies helped create the billionaires who financed the rightwing revolution on Capitol Hill and put George W. Bush in the White House. And now they have indentured servants in Washington demanding that we have capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich.

The free market has been all but eliminated in an energy sector dominated by cartels and monopolies and distorted by obscene subsidies to the filthiest polluters. Our once vibrant agricultural markets are now controlled by multinational monopolies with no demonstrated loyalty to our country or its laws. Media consolidation is transforming journalism from a forum of ideas into a marketplace exclusively for commerce.

If you haven't already done so, say good-bye to the merchants who anchor our local economies and communities. While profits from the big stores flow to distant corporate headquarters, struggling small businesses and farmers recycle their profits back into their communities through their support of Boy Scouts, Little Leagues, and Rotary Clubs, through local commerce, and by paying local employees a living wage and benefits. They pay taxes (a duty shirked by 61 percent of large corporations), and they don't move their corporate headquarters to Bermuda and their operations to Taiwan. These local entrepreneurs are the training schools for civic leadership, and the loss of them sounds the death knell for consumer choice, civic life, and community investment. Teddy Roosevelt often observed that American democracy is too sturdy to be destroyed by a foreign enemy. But, he warned, it could easily be destroyed by "malefactors of great wealth" who would subvert our political institutions from within.'

Roosevelt was no isolated Cassandra. Our greatest political icons from Thomas Jefferson onward have warned Americans against allowing corporate power to dominate our political landscape. In his most famous speech, President Dwight Eisenhower cautioned Americans about the grave danger of falling under control of "the military-industrial complex."' In 1863, in the depths of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln is said to have lamented, "I have the Confederacy before me and the bankers behind me, and for my country I fear the bankers most." Franklin Roosevelt echoed that sentiment when he warned that "the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism."

While communism is the control of business by government, fascism is the control of government by business. My American Heritage Dictionary defines fascism as "a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership together with belligerent nationalism." Sound familiar?

The rise of fascism across Europe in the 1930s offers plenty of lessons on how corporate power can undermine democracy. While the United States confronted its devastating depression by reaffirming its democracy -- enacting minimum wage and Social Security laws to foster a middle class, passing income taxes and antitrust legislation to limit the power of corporations and the wealthy, and commissioning parks and public lands and museums to create employment and safeguard the commons -- Spain, Germany, and Italy reacted to their economic crises in a very different manner. Industrialists forged unholy alliances with right-wing radicals and their charismatic leaders to win elections in Italy and Germany, and then flooded the ministries, running them for their own profit, pouring government money into corporate coffers, and awarding lucrative contracts to prosecute wars and build infrastructure. Benito Mussolini's inside view of the process led him to complain that "fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism' because it is the merger of state and corporate power."

These elected governments used the provocation of terrorist attacks, continual wars, and invocations of patriotism and homeland security to privatize the commons, tame the press, muzzle criticism by opponents, and turn government over to corporate control. "It is always a simple matter to drag the people along," noted Hitler's sidekick, Hermann Goering, "whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

The White House has clearly grasped the lesson. The Bush administration won't ask its industry paymasters to protect their chemical and nuclear plants, but instead has devised an alert system seemingly designed to keep Americans in a constant state of apprehension. As to the war on terror, "It may never end," warned Vice President Cheney in October 2001. "At least, not in our lifetime."

The historian Alex Carey observed that the twentieth century has been largely shaped by three trends: "The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy." The Bush administration marks the triumph of this last trend. Under George W. Bush, American government is dominated by corporate power to an extent unprecedented since the Gilded Age, when the sugar, oil, steel, and railroad trusts owned government officials and traded them like commodities.

While claiming to embrace its values, the Bush administration has stolen the soul of the Republican Party. The president and his cronies have taken the conserve out of conservative. Instead of rugged individualism, they've created a clubhouse that dispenses no-bid contracts to Halliburton. They talk about law and order while encouraging corporate polluters to violate the law. They proclaim free markets while advocating corporate welfare. They claim to love democracy while undermining open government. They applaud state rights and local control, but they are the first to tear up local zoning laws and bully states into lowering environmental standards to make way for corporate profit taking. They exalt property rights, but only when it's the right of a property owner to use his property to pollute or destroy someone else's. Where are these property rights advocates when big coal is demolishing homes in Appalachia, when coal-bed methane barons are destroying Wyoming ranches, when the hog barons are defiling property in North Carolina?

While condemning environmentalists as "radicals," they promote the radical notion that clean water, clean air, and healthy loved ones are luxuries we can't afford.

They invoke Christianity to justify the rape of the land, violating manifold Christian precepts that require us to be careful stewards. Rather than elevating the human spirit, their interpretation of Scripture emphasizes the grimmest vision of the human condition. They embrace intolerance, selfishness, pride, arrogance toward creation, and irresponsibility to the community and future generations.

The easiest thing for a political leader to do is appeal to our fear, our hatred, our greed, our prejudices. My most poignant memory of my father came in the days after he died. I was 14 at the time. After his wake at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, we took him on the train to Washington, D.C. I will never forget the hundreds of thousands of people who lined the tracks-blacks, whites, priests, nuns, rabbis, hippies, men in uniform-many with tears running down their faces, many waving American flags or carrying signs bidding "Good-bye Bobby." From Union Station in Washington we rode in a convoy past the Mall, where thousands of homeless men were encamped in shanties left from Martin Luther King Jr.'s last campaign, and they came to the edge of street and stood with their heads bowed as we passed, crossing the Potomac and heading up the hill at Arlington to bury my father under a simple stone next to his brother.

The faces I saw that day were a cross section of America, the faces of the American community. And yet four years later, I learned from polling data that many of the white people who had supported my father in the 1968 Maryland primary, and had then waved to us from beside that railway track, had voted not for George McGovern in the 1972 primary, but for George Wallace, a man whose philosophies were diametrically opposed to everything my father stood for. It struck me then -- and my observations have confirmed this many times since -- that every nation, and every individual, has a dark side and a light side. And the simplest strategy for a politician is to exploit our baser instincts.

Our greatest politicians have accepted the tougher task of appealing to our sense of community, asking Americans to transcend their own self-interest. Throughout our history they have persuaded us to find the hero in ourselves, and to make sacrifices on behalf of future generations-and for the principles that underpin America's unique mission. John Winthrop, the Moses of the Puritan migration, said that mission was to build a "city on a hill" -- an example to the world of what nations can accomplish if we work together in community. Winthrop's 1630 sermon-arguably the most important speech in American history-called for his fellow citizens to steer away from the greed and power politics that had corrupted the old-world culture. He urged people to build a land that would be "a model for Christian charity." Winthrop's words are often quoted by neoconservatives who invariably omit his warning against the temptation to elevate commercial values lest we "disappear into the lure of real estate."

But instead of inspiring us with invocations for courage, community, and sacrifice, President Bush's campaign strategy revolves around fear-mongering and appeals to selfishness.

Karl Rove's two t's: taxes and terrorists. Instead of can-do American ingenuity, this is the administration of "can't do." It has constructed a philosophy of government based on self-interest run riot: It has borrowed $9 trillion from our children and looted our Treasury, poisoned our water and air, destroyed our public lands, and sacrificed our health-all to enrich the wealthy few. It has reduced the honorable profession of public service to an opportunity for plunder and self-enrichment.

In The Shame of the Cities, his watershed 1904 study of the American political system, Lincoln Steffens concluded that the corruption and failures of American democracy stemmed largely from a single source-the control of government by businesspeople acting in their own self-interest. Steffens characterized that formula as a kind of treason because "the effect of it is literally to change the form of government from one that is representative of the people to an oligarchy representative of the special interests."

Generations of Americans will pay for the Republican campaign debt to the energy industry and other big polluters with global instability, depleted national coffers, and increased vulnerability to oil-market price shocks. They will also pay with reduced prosperity and quality of life at home. Pollution from power plants and traffic smog will continue to skyrocket. Carbon dioxide emissions will aggravate global warming. Acid rain and mercury will continue to sterilize our lakes, poison our fish, and sicken our people. The administration's attacks on science and the law have put something perhaps even greater at risk -- our values and our democracy.

George W. Bush and his court are treating our country as a grab bag for the robber barons, doling out the commons to giant polluters. Together they are cashing in our air, water, aquifers, wildlife, and public lands and divvying up the loot. They are turning our politicians into indentured servants who repay campaign contributions with taxpayer-funded subsidies and lucrative contracts and reign in law enforcement against a booming corporate crime wave.

If they knew the truth, most Americans would share my fury that this president is allowing his corporate cronies to steal America from our children.


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