Foreigners with Beards

Mike Regan

I’ve always been aware that something was amiss. Even when a child, I couldn’t accept the way conditions were. It didn’t have to be that way. Why were my parents failing to deal effectively with the way society was?

Why were the Boy Scouts so regimented? We were ordered around like little soldiers, taught to stand in lines and march. Treated with little respect as individuals.

Why was it that, walking up a long hill on my way home from school I had to breathe the stinky, poisonous fumes coming from diesel and gas vehicles? Why couldn’t “they” do something about this, and about that? Who was running the show, anyway?

The media and the politicians seemed to know the cause of all our problems: Foreigners with beards.

If it wasn’t Fidel Castro, it was Ho Chi Minh. Recently it was Osama Bin Laden, and a whole long list of bearded Middle-Easterners. Also apparently, the other the bad guys were the ones with mustaches: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and more recently, Saddam Hussein.

But, anyone could tell that it wasn’t Ho Chi Minh that was making me choke. It was my own country that planned to send me off to kill or be killed in Viet Nam. It was our own corporations that produced these polluting vehicles and fuels, and our own government who failed to regulate them, and who colluded in the war-profiteering.

Was it really “our” government, who did this in Viet Nam, or “we” who sent support to the tyranny in El Salvadore? It didn’t feel like anyone I knew supported these things. It wasn’t “we” in Seattle who were selling so many Boeing jets this year. Who are “we”, and do we really own “our” government or “our” corporations?

Do corporations have the right to sell poisonous tobacco products or polluting vehicles and fuels indiscriminately? How do the pharmaceutical companies get away with a slap on the wrist after so many have suffered and died from their addictive drugs?
There is a common thread here: Big money rules, and you don’t have it. There is no one running things in the public interest. Just big money interests whose only interest is to make more and bigger money for their own interest.

Occasionally, rich philanthropists like to look like they are looking out for people, and this is good. But, do they give up control to truly democratic and better intended groups like the non-profits? Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or Mothers Against Guns, or environmental groups like Green America or World Wildlife Fund?

Not to be too cynical, but it just seems like whenever one of these grassroots organizations makes a little progress, the rug is jerked out from under them by the power of big money, buying Congressmen and Presidents, who change the rules.

The only real solution is to have a constant drumbeat of public pressure, from a very large majority of the people on all the major issues. To get this, we would have to have a much better level of public understanding and education . . . which we are not getting, because of the private and increasingly centralized control of the big media. But that’s OK… Most of the men there are clean-shaven, anyway.

There once was something called the “fairness doctrine”… A law that required all big media outlets to provide equal time to opposing points of view whenever a political issue was aired on their stations. How could they be required? Because they are using the public airwaves and public roads for the wires and cables to propagate their massages. And the corporations were not claiming they were “persons” with rights of free speech.

We can no longer blame foreigners with beards, women, gays, blacks or whoever. They are we, and it’s about time for us human persons to take back our rights and the power to control our own destiny.

What Does Being a Progressive Mean To Me?

Mike Regan, Irondale

It means working for progress towards a better, fairer society: A society of mutual respect between human beings.

When you look at our positions on this list of issues what is the common thread?Medicare for all, College tuition, The We the People Amendment, A ban Nuclear weapons, Help to those fleeing oppression. Defense of voting rights. A Green New Deal.

Why are our opponents not so concerned about these issues? What sets us apart?

The answer is, that we are for human rights, not corporate rights..

We are for Human rights, not military might.

Human rights, not property rights.

Human rights, not gun rights.

Human rights, not money rights.

The right to breathe clean air, not the right to pollute.

The rights of Nature to survive and flourish, not the right to extract minerals from the environment to extract money from the people.

We do not want to live in a me-first adversarial relationship with Nature, and with each other; but in cooperation and mutual support.

Me-first is not an ideology, It’s just selfishness.

And America first is just an extension of the same thing.

Being Progressive doesn’t mean we want people to give up anything.

We want Markets, not Monopolies.

We want what is good for everyone, which then results in the good for the individual.

We oppose the unlimited accumulation of wealth and power.

We depose anyone who uses his position of power to abuse people, to manipulate and violate them.

Not only do we want these people removed from power, we want the positions themselves to be changed so that power is strictly limited.

We want protections for the powerless, not power to the powerful.

We want democracy, not autocracy. Democracy, not oligarchy. Democracy, not plutocracy.

The rule of the people, not the rule of money.

Equality under the law for all persons regardless of race, creed, color, economic status, or any other quality that may be used as an excuse to divide us.

We do not want division. We want unity.

At bottom, I am an optimist and I believe great things can be accomplished; but we can only achieve a fair and just society when we come to hold the rights of Nature and of Humanity above those of money and power.