Friday, July 4, 2008

Freedom to Shop

I’ve never been too interested in American icons like flags and anthems and liberty bells, although as a child I read a biography of Betsy Ross, and once composed a tribute to my Golden Retriever, Milo, to the tune of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

But I’ll tell you, I warmed right up to the picture of the Statue of Liberty that I found on my 2008 Economic Stimulus Payment — the first check I’ve gotten from the federal treasury in a long, long time.

There it was, made out to me, no strings attached, and I knew it was sent with full permission to spend. Glad as I was to have it, it seemed strangely irresponsible that our government is sending us our own money to blow. Never mind that people have more consumer debt than ever and more crap than anyone in their right mind needs. Buy more. It's alright. Spend it.

That’s what our government’s doing. It's putting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the giant MasterCharge, the one with no limit. It's blowing money, literally, every single second. Why should we taxpayers miss out on all the fun?

I see the check, sitting on my table this Fourth of July, and I think of the lyrics by the sovereignty group, Sudden Rush:

“The lady with the torch don’t mean nothing to me cuz Mauna Kea is my statue of liberty.”

Strange, how despite the lofty ideals set forth by our founding fathers, we haven't taken a course much divergent from the militarism and colonialism of the oppressors we shook off. But hey, we have maintained that most precious quintessentially American freedom of all: the freedom to shop.

I look around my house. I can’t think of anything I want or need. I’ll likely just deposit it in the bank, and use it to for my estimated tax payments. I learned a long time ago that there is no free lunch.


Anonymous said...

Hey! You and Milton Friedman! I'm surprised to see you in such good company.

Anonymous said...

"Freedom to shop"

And to write anything you want without anyone ever showing up at your door in the middle of the night to rifle through your property and drag you off to prison for criticising the government! Lucky you, to have been born an American.

Anonymous said...

that's why we're called privileged!
love it or leave it, freedom ain't free; it's being mortgaged with interest that our children will pay dearly for.

Katy said...

yeah, Joan: you have freedom to say whatever you want, so you better just shut up!!!

Anonymous said...

Nah, you don't have to love it or leave it. Nobody has ever had to love or leave it. You can hate it and stay right here and nobody will do anything to you. Just like nobody has done anything to you or Katy. It's romantic to think there's danger in being a radical in Ameri[kkk]a, but you're free to be one safely here.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:24 is happy in his Leave it to Beaver world view.

This government is very much prepared to lock up people without much proof. Ever wonder why virtually every "terrorist" arrested after 9/11 had to be let go when they finally got into court?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:29 is happy in his Angela Davis world view.

Name one person dragged off to prison for criticising the government.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous, leave these people alone! Without the illusion that they're bravely battling powerful forces at great personal risk, their lives would be really boring.

Anonymous said...

Your stimulus package does comes with strings attached.
If you get a refund next year, your stimulus package will be subtracted from the refund. Strings are always attached. Read the fine print.

Katy said...

I don't buy into that idea that we dissidents are at grave risk for speaking out. We do have freedom of speech - hence Noam Chomsky walks free, and M-1 from Dead Prez travels through the world at will. And, accordingly, I don't post anonymously.

However, this is not to say that we don't have political prisoners in the US. We do, indeed. But they weren't convicted of "dissident speech." They were falsely convicted of other crimes.

The "war on terror" has led to another level of judicial malfeasance.

Also, at various times in our history, political dissidents were blacklisted, lynched, and otherwise persecuted either through the judicial system or by private means. This is just objectively true.

But I think it's important to recognize that overall, in the US, we are relatively free to speak out and dissent. In some places, (with US suport, by the way) death squads take care of those who do the same. So, to my mind, it seems we who dissent have a greater responsibility here to do so vigorously and effectively - not just speak, but assemble and take action!

No, we on the left aren't all wearing tin-foil hats! (Angela Davis isn't either...)

Ed Coll said...

Thanks for the 4 of July reflection Joan. My favorite Sudden Rush line is, "Uncle Sam he da man acting like he give a dam, can't run from the past can't hide from the truth, and I still ain't wearing no soldier boots. Ring the bell that still can ring!

Anonymous said...

in hawaii, it's not "america: love it or leave it" ; it's "america: love it or make IT leave"!

Anonymous said...

Katy, who is a political prisoner falsely convicted of crimes? Name one.

Larry said...

Watch the coming political conventions. In 2006 police arrested everyone in sight in NYC. Quite unconstitutional. They were held variously for 48 hours or so, then released. Almost all the arrests were thrown out. Police lied, made up stories whole cloth. They were often trapped by video showing that the people they say they arrested were in fact elsewhere at the time. The officers are still on the police force. Their action to suppress dissent was successful. Nevermind any old Constitution.

Since there are no consequences for the police, why should they not arrest and lock up protesters?

In our history we have Kent State. Students were actually shot. Shot dead. Blacks in the south were routinely lynched. The local gendarmerie were either complicit or at best did nothing. White juries convicted --and still convict--poor and black people in huge numbers. And then there's GITMO. All your emails can be tapped, all of them, as well as your phone calls. All of them.

People thrown off airplanes because their t-shirts have something written in a foreign language, or because they are brown-skinned men with a beard. Six clerics who got into trouble at an airport because they prayed to God their way. Raids on chicken processing plants that rounded up US citizens indiscriminately along with undocumented workers. People deported quickly so that they cannot consult their attorneys, after having been picked up in commando-style raids in middle of the night (the common way of doing that). US citizens deported illegally. Elections (a foundation of democracy that most people can relate to) have been rigged, voting machines removed after voting. Bush is in office for a second term. Black and poor voters removed from the rolls in Florida and no doubt elsewhere. Simply removed. Insufficient voting machines in certain communities.

No, they haven't caught up yet with bloggers, and we can write what we like. Don't doubt, though, that all this is on file someplace awaiting the day...

Katy said...

Here are a few names:

Leonard Peltier

Sundiata Acoli

Herman Bell

Jalil Muntaqim

Jeffrey "Free" Leurs

The Vieques resisters

The Cuban Five

and dozens more

In some cases, sentences were imposed far out of proportion to the action for which the person was sentenced, for political motives. In other cases, people were convicted of crimes they couldn't have committed. In yet other cases, unfair trials muddied the waters and produced convictions even in the face of more-than-reasonable doubt (read "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" for a definitive account of the Peltier trial.)

Most political prisoners in the US are people of color. White radicals who speak out, like myself, are privileged in the sense that we are far less likely to face personal or judicial consequences for doing so.

Thanks, Larry, for some excellent examples of free expression being hampered.

Anonymous said...

Katy, your first four felons were involved in shoot outs with police. The fifth is in jail for arson, a very serious crime with serious penalties, even when not committed for purposes of "protecting the earth." Vieques resisters are prosecuted for violating the law - which they admit to doing - not for what they believe. Cuba admits the Cuban Five were spies, and nobody disputes that their acts resulting in the Cuban government shooting down two private airplanes.

I'm surprised you left off your list famous cop killer and lefty poster child Mumia Abdul Jamal.

Larry, the six imams in Minneapolis were not taken off the plane for praying. They acted in ostentatiously suspicious manners - including sitting in seats near all the plane's exits in seats for which they did not have tickets, and asking for seat belt extensions even though non of them was overweight. Any honest person familiar with the facts is forced to conclude they were intentionally acting provocatively. And anyway, they were never in jail.

Katy said...

As far as my list goes, you can go ahead and believe the versions presented by the police, FBI, the DA's. That's okay. I see it differently.

Have you read "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse"? I highly recommend it.

I think that it is imperative that all accused people get a fair trial, and it disturbs me that these particular revolutionary people and others (like Mumia, like Geronimo Pratt, etc. etc.) were not, in my estimation, given fair trials.

At the same time, I think that it is foolish of us as dissidents in the US to pretend that the atmosphere is so incredibly repressive that we should stop speaking out. Compared to many other places in the world, we have much freedom to stand up for our principles.

In addition I think we should critically assess the ways that first amendment rights are often respected by authorities because our protests are a kind of "pressure valve." We should remember that marches, signs and speeches are educational and useful as organizing tools, but are essentially easy for authority to ignore and in fact to tout as evidence that our society is on the right track (after all, we have "free speech," so how bad can it be?) What greater evidence of this is there than the fact that the pre-war protests which drew millions of people had no impact on preventing the war?

Protests, etc. are good but they are not enough. "Direct action gets the goods."

Anonymous said...

Katy - You continue to be predictable. You don't believe their accounts simply becuase they are "the police, FBI, the DA's." Sure, you'll deny it, but the slant of your many postings begs otherwise. Just like the numerous accounts of Hawaiians being swindled out of their land, not ONE of which you can site. If you want to believe something - you will regardless of what the evidence says. Like another posting said here you thrive on the illusion that you're "bravely battling powerful forces." lol

Katy said...

Not really - I don't think I'm very brave at all. But I certainly do question "the Man," just as others kiss his ass.

You've made your choice, I've made mine. I'd be more interested in actually reading about your position and what you believe in than reading your random personal insults against people you disagree with. You might change my mind - who knows?

What do you actually believe in? Make the case!

Anonymous said...




land ownership

legally "right" trumps "morally good"

winning, versus losing, since there will be both types of people...some of each because of themselves and some of each in spite of themselves.

a world that is inherently unfair and unequal, since that is a motivator to "win"

greed is good

power is good (as long as you have it)


your mileage may vary