Monday, November 14, 2011

"We are the Many"
  A song for the OCCUPY movement and for 2011-12

The video is from Makana's web site at Vimeo. Makana represents the next step, a song for the Occupy movement in the tradition of Joe Hill, to Woody Guthrie, to Pete Seeger, and to Bob Dylan.

From a top news story today:
A popular Hawaiian recording artist turned a top-security dinner of Pacific Rim leaders hosted by President Barack Obama into a subtle protest with a song in support of the "Occupy" movement.

Makana, who goes by one name, was enlisted to play a luau, or Hawaiian feast, Saturday night for leaders assembled in Obama's birthplace Honolulu for an annual summit that is formulating plans for a Pacific free-trade pact.

But in the midst of the dinner on the resort strip Waikiki Beach, he pulled open his jacket to reveal a T-shirt that read "Occupy with Aloha," using the Hawaiian word whose various meanings include love and peace. He then sang a marathon version of his new song "We Are The Many."
Here are the lyrics:
We Are The Many

Ye come here, gather 'round the stage
The time has come for us to voice our rage
Against the ones who've trapped us in a cage
To steal from us the value of our wage

From underneath the vestiture of law
The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw
At liberty, the bureaucrats guffaw
And until they are purged, we won't withdraw

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

Our nation was built upon the right
Of every person to improve their plight
But laws of this Republic they rewrite
And now a few own everything in sight

They own it free of liability
They own, but they are not like you and me
Their influence dictates legality
And until they are stopped we are not free

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

You enforce your monopolies with guns
While sacrificing our daughters and sons
But certain things belong to everyone
Your thievery has left the people none

So take heed of our notice to redress
We have little to lose, we must confess
Your empty words do leave us unimpressed
A growing number join us in protest

We occupy the streets
We occupy the courts
We occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

You can't divide us into sides
And from our gaze, you cannot hide
Denial serves to amplify
And our allegiance you can't buy

Our government is not for sale
The banks do not deserve a bail
We will not reward those who fail
We will not move till we prevail

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

We are the many
You are the few

You can download the mp3 version here.

AND through the web sites listed below, you can interact with the movement:

Originally Posted in the Redwood Guardian

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Why Third Way Democrats fail
   Solar Powered Soup Kitchens

The title to this post pretty much says it all about Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown and President Barack "Avatar" Obama.

Both have been sufficiently removed from reality by political ambition that we would expect them to actually favor grant programs to provide solar power to soup kitchens while pondering signing off on cuts in funding for meat.

Reality is the story headlined Most of the unemployed no longer receive benefits explaining:

The jobs crisis has left so many people out of work for so long that most of America's unemployed are no longer receiving unemployment benefits.

Early last year, 75 percent were receiving checks. The figure is now 48 percent — a shift that points to a growing crisis of long-term unemployment. Nearly one-third of America's 14 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more.

...Their options include food stamps or other social programs. Nearly 46 million people received food stamps in August, a record total. That figure could grow as more people lose unemployment benefits.
Even if there are people "gaming" the system, these numbers clearly tell us a serious problem is developing.

By the time you add in those who have never drawn unemployment such as unemployed recent high school and college graduates (and drop outs), we are allowing a huge expansion of the number of our people who are poor by late 20th Century American standards.

Two things are certain.
First, green industry is not going to fix the problem of employment in California no matter how much people might want it to be the universal solution for everything.

Second, despite the machinations of Moonbeam's Administration, the California State Budget will be seriously out of balance by June.

The Great California Slump is not going to be fixed by creating solar powered soup kitchens. (Yes, there is such a thing - see Sun powers Tucson soup kitchen.)

Originally Posted in the Redwood Guardian

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Day at a Time:
   The 21st Century American Family

To gain an understanding of the reality of our national economic condition, a good place to begin is the first in a series of articles by Advertising Age that will be "a year-long study of the American consumer with an examination of how those in the middle are getting squeezed -- and how marketers are beginning to respond."

Advertising Age is the main trade journal for the people who create and place advertising. They generally know what's going on in our consumer-based economy. From this first article:
...America's backbone is bending toward the breaking point. In the last decade, consumers overall cut spending 4.2% in 2010 dollars, and the brunt of that was felt by the middle class, which slashed spending between 10% and 13%. Meanwhile, the upper 20% of earners curbed spending only 6%. The blame can't be pinned on the recession, either. In real dollars, median family income is now what it was in 1997.

...This America looks like neither the Cosbys nor the Jeffersons; it does not resemble the Conners or the Bunkers. Perhaps it looks a little like "Modern Family" without the spending power. Today, half of all households have less than $10,000 in annual discretionary income, according to Experian Simmons.

While these changes haven't happened overnight, marketers are grappling with how to keep up. Walmart has stopped adding upscale merchandise and put back the bargain bins known as Action Alley. Layaway programs are in full swing at Kmart, Sears, Best Buy and Toys R Us. Hallmark even has greeting cards for the unemployed.
The article also discusses factual data from the 2010 Census that confirmed what many were noticing. Even in the early 1970's the median income family lived on one paycheck. But today the median income family has two paychecks.

The problem with that fact is the majority of the income growth over the past 35 years has taken place in two-income families while in the last two decades the number of married-couple families fell below half the American households.

Regardless of how you feel about the sociological changes, the fact is marketers are adjusting in order to survive. For the advertising business, these aren't political or social or religious issues, just economic realities.

The Advertising Age article mentions the ABC show "Modern Family," one of the most popular shows currently on television. It notes that America resembles the show but lacks "the spending power." Indeed, the one absence in "Modern Family" is that there is no one-adult household with or without children.  A curious omission.

I would argue that instead of looking back at the Huxtables (they weren't the Cosbys), the Jeffersons, the Conners, or the Bunkers, we should remember the CBS show "One Day at a Time" that ran from 1975 to 1984 and this family that in retrospect seems prescient:

Originally Posted in the Redwood Guardian