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Saturday, November 5, 2011

From Wall Street to Main Street, the Future at Stake

Originally published by Solar Times

By Norman Solomon

     On a beautiful autumn day, hundreds of people gathered in downtown San Rafael to call for basic change. The signs varied, but in essence they gave voice to hopes for democracy instead of “corporatocracy.”

     We were on a main street, opposing rule by Wall Street.

     The upsurges of Fall 2011 have been much more than a wave of protests beginning with “Occupy Wall Street” actions in the nation’s mightiest financial district.

     From Manhattan to Marin County and beyond, people are anguished, disgusted, angry and -- increasingly -- determined.

     And we should be determined. The future is at stake.

     Corporate power is fundamental to what ails our country. The remedy is genuine democracy.

It’s not possible to map out a plausible path toward a green, sustainable future without directly challenging corporate power.

     Wall Street firms are not democratic. Unless civic engagement and government action are able to restrain their quest to maximize profits, the large corporations are accountable only to investors.

     Ominous climate change is a clear -- and terrible -- consequence of corporate dominance and government inaction. We cannot, we must not, accept the idea of “corporate personhood” that allows large companies to ravage the earth while further enriching the already rich.

     I believe in government of, by and for people -- not of, by and for corporations.

     That’s why, as a candidate for Congress, I’m not taking a single penny of corporate PAC money.

     I marvel at candidates who talk about their love for the environment while taking many thousands of dollars from environmentally destructive companies. Those firms are not engaged in philanthropy when they hand out big checks to politicians.

     The power of Wall Street is undermining our prospects for a truly democratic and sustainable future.

     We need to create millions of green jobs, end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, close corporate tax loopholes, implement a transaction tax on Wall Street and cut the huge Pentagon budget that fuels endless wars.

     The U.S. military -- the most polluting institution on the planet -- represents an apex of destructive technologies that are lucrative for Wall Street. If we don’t reorder our priorities, their cascading effects will be horrendous for future generations and, overall, for life on Earth.

     As the great environmentalist Barry Commoner pointed out four decades ago, “Everything is connected to everything else.” That certainly includes how we treat each other and how we treat the planet.

     When I think of the people who filled the sidewalk along San Rafael’s Fourth Street back in mid-October, inspired by Occupy Wall Street, I’m moved by the idealism that brought them there.

     In essence, that’s the kind of idealism that continues to energize people from the North Bay to every other region of the world. As we cry out for social justice, for protection of nature, for human rights, for peace, we’re giving voice to our common human spirit.

     From climate change to perpetual war to vast gaps between the wealthy and the rest of us, the trends are wrong.

     These are not ordinary times. We must create basic change. Countless lives are at stake. And countless species on our beautiful and fragile planet are at stake.

     That’s why I’m running for Congress. With Lynn Woolsey retiring at the end of 2012, we need to continue to have a strong progressive voice in the U.S. House of Representatives.

     Our campaign is dedicated to “principle as strategy.” We will remain principled. And, on that essential basis, we can win.


Norman Solomon was co-chair of the Commission on a Green New Deal for the North Bay. He is the author of many books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” For more information: