The Election Year is coming, people: Please Vote. And Vote Green!

“Either [you’re] a part of the problem or part of the solution, what’s your contribution to life? So many people complain, always talk about change … but what’s your contribution to life?” – Jurassic 5.

Nell Bernstein’s new book, “Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison“, tells us in short that prison is bad. Really? That’s good to know. Of course it’s bad, and sure prisons do nothing really of what they’re supposed to do and so much of what they’re not supposed to do: they churn out delinquents and failures more often than well-situated and healthy citizens. And nobody really cares – at least that’s how it seems when we consider how we vote and what our politicians do about it. [See: “California Prison Reform amidst Private Prison Profiteers“.]

As any city dweller knows who’s walked attentively through any downtown area recently to unavoidably see and smell crackheads and hoods lying aimlessly on sidewalks steaming with piss vapors a block away from IT office skyscrapers, high fashion boutiques, and yuppie hipster cafes, the problem doesn’t begin with prisons but with society, and the thing that seems to be wrong with society, as so many academics and protesters tell us from time to time, is the 1% versus 99% problem highlighted by the “Occupiers” of yore: in short, severe economic disparity. Look at a few examples please:

1. We have mega-corporations polluting our cities and countryside ad nauseam (literally), plundering our natural resources, and cloistering us within concrete jungles, and we wonder why crime rates soar and public health plummets in the areas of our country most negatively affected by such ills as pollution and natural degradation. [See the Environmental Justice work and articles of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and that of Communities for a Better Environment.]

2. Without some sort of title, permit, or other proof of purchase, Federal, State, and local laws the world over curtail or prohibit human beings from responsibly living, foraging, hunting, or fishing wherever in nature that they please like every other animal has a birth right to do, while multinational corporations are for all intents and purposes permitted it seems to clear-cut entire forests, over-fish our oceans to the point of mass species extinctions, poke holes in our atmosphere’s protective Ozone layer, and poison our drinking water and air that we breath. [See the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2013” Report on Air Quality in each County and each State of the USA; and See “Cities’ homeless crackdown: Could it be compassion fatigue?” by Yamiche Alcindor, USA Today, June 10, 2012.]

3. We have disingenuous statutes like the “No Child Left Behind Act“, but we all know that the majority of children in this country’s public schools receive a substandard education particularly in comparison to that received in our European counterparts’ public school systems – which is exactly why so many elite private schools exist to fill the gap left even in wealthy American neighborhoods. [See “Why Other Countries Teach Better: Three Reasons Students Do Better Overseas“, The New York Times, Editorial Section, December 17, 2013.]

4. And we’re told that the best we can do to alleviate the health care crisis in this country is the “Affordable Care Act“, which is basically a boon to the insurance industry by bringing it millions of new customers under threat of law.  Oh, so you can’t afford health insurance? Well buy it or else! Thank you, Mister President. [See “Obama Universal Health Care Plan May Be Unconstitutional, and Other Broken Promises of the Obama Administration“.]

This voting season, I urge you to vote to make a difference. I’m a member of the Green Party: not because I think they’ll win, but because one day I’d like them to. [See the Green Party’s 10 Key Values; and See this outline of Ralph Nader’s amazing and extensive achievements for our public benefit, for example.] And with each registered member and vote that Green politicians receive, the Green Party strengthens its position in America’s limited two-party political landscape, receives more governmental and private funding, and comes closer to winning – which would be a fantastic accomplishment for all of us, I assure you!

Who doesn’t want an end to America as ‘world police’ and the troops to come home? Who doesn’t want honest-to-goodness universal health care, a higher quality of public education for all of us rich or poor, less air and water pollution in our cities and rural spaces, more public green space, environmentally friendly energy sources, a foreign policy that is more amicable and less isolationist, and economic and social policies that are more 99% and less 1%? Who doesn’t want these things? You know who! [See The Huffington Post’s March 25, 2013 article and video, “Ralph Nader Predicts Billionaire 3rd Party Candidates in 2016“.]

So Ms. Nell Bernstein, thank you for telling us that prisons are bad, for those of us who forgot – and I’m not being facetious. But the real problem, the source of our perverse prison-industrial-military corporatocracy, is a whole lot bigger – the kind of problem that only our elected officials and especially the President of the United States have the power to solve.

And please let us not forget how much power the President of the United States actually has. For all Mr. Obama’s gesturing and finger-pointing at the Congress and its efforts to hinder his allegedly grand populist agenda, lawyers familiar with the US Constitution and other students of US politics know that the President, as the head of the Executive branch of the United States government, has singularly unparalleled power to effectuate enormous amounts of change in the nation. [See this Wikipedia summary of the President’s powers.]

What we need are politicians who care about making the kinds of changes that we the people need. The Election Year is coming, people: Please Vote. And Vote Green!

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