Saturday, April 21, 2012


My good friend Randy has challenged me to come up with some possible solutions to how we can fix some of our society’s ills.  That is a tall order, but I do have some thoughts on the subject.

It’s interesting that Colonial Africa, settled by the Dutch, and Colonial America, settled by the English, were defining how their countries would turn out at about the same time in history. The differences are startling. The Dutch government sent colonists to exploit and do business in African countries. The English came for freedom from oppression and freedom of religion to America. In African countries  the vastness of the continent and the difficulty for communities to communicate prevented social change.  No press.  American Colonists had an active free press from the very beginning.

Keeping the press honest, transparent, and full of truth or consequences,  would go a long way to help our democracy return to its better past.  Our so-called free press serves as such, inadequately, in small pockets, to this day.  For the most part, corporate interests decide what we read in our newspapers and news magazines, and what is dispensed to us as news on television.

You and I can do something about it. The first step is to  keep the internet open and free. Frequent attempts are made to regulate and change it. Adamantly resist, and spread the word to everyone you communicate with to do the same. Don’t concede to any tinkering no matter how small. It is the last bastion of free speech in the world. The internet is a predominant tool for change and must be protected against corporate dominance  and government intervention.

But back to the television and newspapers.  We now have a new growth industry in the media called Dirty Politics as in the Supreme Court Decision of 2010 that allowed for unlimited spending on elections.  For the best interests of we the people, the Federal Communications Commission is supposed to regulate the  public airways. In my opinion they’ve always done a poor job. But, if everyone got on their website at and filed a complaint, and pressed your current legislator to support clean communications, your voice in great numbers can leverage change. For instance, right now, the FCC has proposed a rule to identify Super Pac donors on the air or in print WITH the ad. Guess who is fighting it and sending their representatives and lobbyists to the FCC in droves?

Here is a partial list:  NBC, ABC, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Politica…and television station owners like owners of ESPN, Comcast, Gannet News, Belo (owners of 20 TV Stations.  Shocking, isn’t it?  They don’t want to give up all that juicy money.

And another thing you can do, is constantly harangue the FCC and your current legislators to provide a free election channel. That would stop much of the talking money instantly. Almost every industrialized nation has a free election channel. Here is how I harangue them.  Whenever I get a solicitation from a national candidate for money, I return the envelope with these words, or tell the caller to deliver this message: “When you (or your candidate) sponsor a bill insisting the Federal Communications System designate a national channel dedicated for elections, I’ll send you a donation. “These are public airways. We own them, not the corporations who now control them.”  Guess who has the money to buy our congresspersons on that issue?

And the 9th US Circuit court just ruled that Public Broadcasting (radio and tv) can air political ads. Brazen corruption of the purpose of public broadcasting's non profit position.

The best way, is to put your faith in non-profit organizations who tackle issues one by one, community by community. For a free press  try Public Citizen, Common Cause, The Sunlight Foundation,, Propublica, New America. These companies are fighting for transparency in political ads. Many of these non-profits have to fight our government to force them to obey the laws they have passed. A shame, isn’t it.

And, stay active in your community. In fact, this issue just happened in my neighboring Tuolumne County. Because of corporate money meddling in our government, a board member proposed that the county pass a law that any newspaper ads, or television ads that aired in their county, have to have the names of those who paid for the ad in large enough print to be read while the ad played. It was called the Transparency In Government Act. It failed on a two to three vote. People really have power at the voting booth, in your own community on local issues. You can vote out those who opposed it and publicize those that don’t want transparency in government by putting up signs, letters to your editor and by internet, or joining a group.

Each one of us can do something.

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