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The Canadian rocker and master story teller, Neil Young, says: “Music is a universal language.” Yes, and when created by a people’s champion like him, music can bring down the high and mighty – just as Joshua’s trumpeters brought down the walls of Jericho.
Or, in Neil’s case, the walls of Monsanto. He has issued a powerful new album titled “The Monsanto Years,” taking on the arrogant gene manipulator and avaricious pesticide merchant for its relentless attempt to profiteer at the expense of family farmers, consumers, people’s democratic rights, and nature itself. On the title track, Young sings this verse: “The farmer knows he’s got to grow what he can sell, Monsanto, Monsanto/ So he signs a deal for GMOs that makes life hell with Monsanto, Monsanto/ Every year he buys the patented seeds/ Poison-ready, they’re what the corporation needs, Monsanto.”
Poor Monsanto – it says that Young’s lyrical truth has hurt its feelings. (Actually, Monsanto has no feelings, since it’s a corporation, a paper construct created solely for the purpose of maximizing the profits and minimizing the obligations of its big shareholders.) Nonetheless, the global giant whined in an official corporate statement that Young’s song ignores “what we do every day to help make agriculture more sustainable.”
But “sustainable” for whom? By its actions every day, Monsanto shows that the answer is: Sustainable for the corporate exploiter. As Young put it: “Corporations don’t have children. They don’t have feeling or soul. They don’t depend on uncontaminated water, clean air, or healthy food to survive. They are beholden to one thing – The bottom line. I choose to speak Truth to this Economic Power.”
In Neil Young’s music, mighty Monsanto has met a freewheeling cultural power it can’t intimidate, buy out, censor, or escape from.
“Monsanto Fires Back at Neil Young’s Scathing New Album,” www.ecowatch.com, June 20, 2015.
Warning: Pink ribbons don’t cure breast cancer
This is a question that more and more women who have breast cancer are asking in rising vexation over what’s become know as the “pinkification” of their disease. They’re referring to the ubiquitous breast cancer awareness campaign that uses pink ribbons and pink everything to promote mammograms for early detection of the cancer. Sounds innocent enough, except for a couple of ugly realities.
Pink Problem Number One is that the campaign has become a cheap way for profiteering corporations to glom onto a feel-good cause, literally wrapping themselves in pink to sell their products under the guise that they are altruists helping women fight this deadly illness. For example, during October’s “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Delta Air Lines dresses flight attendants in pink and sells pink lemonade on its flights, Ford sells “pink warrior” decals for its cars, and Dick’s Sporting Goods offers pink football cleats and other specially-tinted merchandise.
Pink Problem Number Two is that the millions of dollars thrown into these corporate and charitable PR campaigns are focused on detection of the disease, rather than on the more crucial needs of developing preventative measures and cures, caring for those who do get the cancer, and mounting an all-out research effort to determine its environmental causes. “What do we have to show for the billions spent on pink ribbon products?” asks the director of the activist group, Breast Cancer Action.” A lot of us are done with awareness,” she says. “We want action.”
We’ve had 25 years of what breast cancer activist now call “pinkwashing,” yet the disease is as rampant as ever. Wearing a pink ribbon is not enough – to help shift the effort into causes, cures, and caring, go to www.BreastCancerDeadline2020.org.
“Some Breast Cancer Activists Assail Rampant ‘Pinkification’ of October,” The New York Times, October 31, 2015.
Moneyed elites get richer the old-fashioned way: Stealing
Get ready to swallow your “Statistic of the Day!”
But first, to help you absorb the big one, here’s a preliminary statistic for you: 158,000. That’s the number of kindergarten teachers in America, and their combined income in 2013 was $8 billion. Now, here’s your Big Stat of the Day (even though it seems smaller): Four. That’s the number of America’s highest-paid hedge fund operators whose combined income in 2013 was $10 billion. Yes, just four Wall Street greedmeisters hauled off $2 billion more in pay than was received by all of our Kindergarten teachers.
Now, which group do you think pays the lowest rate of income tax? Right… the uber-rich Wall Streeters! Incredibly, Congress (in its inscrutable wisdom) gives preferential tax treatment to the narcissistic money manipulators who do practically nothing for the common good. Even the flamboyant celebrity narcissist, Donnie Trump, sees through the gross inequality of this tax scam: “The hedge fund guys didn’t build this country,” The Donald recently barked. “These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky. The hedge fund guys are getting away with murder.” Indeed, dodging through a loophole called “carried interest,” they pay about half the tax rate that Kindergarten teachers are assessed. In effect, Wall Street’s puppets in Congress let this tiny group of moneyed elites steal about $18 billion a year that they owe to the public treasury to finance the structure and workings of America itself.
The inequality that is presently ripping our society apart is not the result of some incomprehensible force of nature, but the direct result of collusion between financial and political elites to rig the system for the enrichment of the few – ie, themselves – and the impoverishment of the many. There’s a word for those elites: Thieves.
“Trump Lands Blow Against A Loophole,” The New York Times, September 18, 2015.
“These four hedge fund guys out-earned every kindergarten teacher in America,” www.vox.com, May 6, 2014.